Residential customers of gas utility companies are notably more satisfied with their utility providers, compared with 2009, as a result of lower bill amounts, more frequent communication and improved perceptions of corporate citizenship, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2010 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study.
The study, now in its ninth year, measures residential customer satisfaction with gas utility companies across six factors (listed in order of importance): billing and payment; price; corporate citizenship; communications; customer service; and field service.
Overall Satisfaction, Most Brands Improve
Overall satisfaction averages 629 on a 1,000-point scale in 2010, up 13 points from 616 in 2009. In addition, among the 75 brands ranked in the study, 70 have improved from 2009. J.D. Power analysis indicated that increased satisfaction with communications stems from improved customer recall of messages from their gas utility and a greater emphasis on communications regarding cost-saving methods and energy conservation.
Bills Drop 8%
Driving the increase in satisfaction are improvements in the areas of communications, price and corporate citizenship. Customer-reported bill amounts have decreased 8.2%, to $90 in 2010 from $98 in 2009. In addition, the percentage of customers who indicate they have heard about an impending rate increase has declined slightly to 29% in 2010 from 31% in 2009.
The study ranks large and midsize utility companies in four geographic regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Companies in the midsize utility segments serve between 165,000 and 399,999 residential customers, while companies in the large utility segment serve 400,000 or more residential customers.
NJ Natural Gas, South Jersey Gas Lead East Region
Among large utilities in the East region, New Jersey Natural Gas ranks highest and receives an award for a second consecutive year. Following in the segment rankings are UGI Utilities and Washington Gas.
In the East region midsize utility segment, South Jersey Gas Company ranks highest, followed by NSTAR Gas and Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania, respectively.
MidAmerican Energy, Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha Lead Midwest Region
MidAmerican Energy ranks highest among large utilities in the Midwest region, followed by CenterPoint Energy–Midwest and Xcel Energy–Midwest, respectively.
Among midsize utilities in the Midwest region, Metropolitan Utilities District of Omaha ranks highest. Following in the segment rankings are Louisville Gas & Electric and Alliant Energy (in a tie).
PSNC, CPS Lead South Region
PSNC Energy ranks highest among large gas utility providers in the South region, followed by Texas Gas Service and Oklahoma Natural Gas.
Among midsize providers in the South region, CPS Energy ranks highest. Following in the segment rankings are TECO Peoples Gas and South Carolina Electric & Gas.
NW Natural, Avista Lead West Region
NW Natural ranks highest among large utilities in the West region. Following in the segment rankings are Southern California Gas Company and Puget Sound Energy.
Among midsize providers in the West region, Avista Utilities and Intermountain Gas Company rank highest, in a tie. Following in the segment ranking is Colorado Springs Utilities.
About the Data: The 2010 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on more than 61,000 responses from residential customers of the 75 largest gas utilities across the continental US. The study was fielded between September 2009 and July 2010. J.D. Power and Associates is publisher of all enclosed charts, which were derived from the study.