Looking for satisfied consumers? J.D. Power found them at electric cooperatives.
Three co-ops are the nation’s highest-rated utilities in the 2018 J.D. Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. It was a very close finish, with the trio coming in within four points of each other.
Sawnee EMC took the top spot in the co-op segment and overall, scoring 804 on a 1,000-point scale. That’s an 18-point increase from last year’s study, and a nice birthday present for the Cumming, Georgia-based co-op, which in 2018 marks eight decades of service.
“This is a great honor for the dedicated men and women that call Sawnee home each day, and also for over 142,000 members that entrust us to meet their energy needs and serve their community,” said Michael A. Goodroe, president and CEO of Sawnee. “This speaks volumes to our commitment to always put our members first.”
Runner-up Walton EMC in Monroe, Georgia, was second nationally, scoring 800, followed by Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative (NOVEC) at 796, up 8 points from last year. Stan Feuerberg, president and CEO of Manassas-based NOVEC, took special pride in one segment of the study.
“In particular, we’re pleased our customer-owners gave us the highest score in the nation for Power Quality and Reliability,” said Feuerberg, noting that accounts for 28 percent of the overall score. “NOVEC’s investments in our robust system infrastructure and smart-grid technologies, and our constant attention to system maintenance have resulted in 99.99 percent uptime and high customer satisfaction.”
Rounding out the top five in the co-op segment were Jackson EMC headquartered in Jefferson, Georgia, at 791, and Central Florida-based SECO Energy at 785.
Overall, seven of the top 10 utilities, and 15 of the top 20, are co-ops.
This year’s study covered 138 electric utility brands, which J.D. Power said collectively represent more than 99 million U.S. households. That’s a lot of consumers, and the company emphasized the importance of keeping them satisfied.
“Proactive communications, primarily delivered through digital channels, such as email, text message, or social media post, are having a significant positive impact on residential electric utility customer satisfaction,” said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power.
“Power outages are going to happen,” said Hazen. “The more proactive electric utilities are in clearly communicating information about the cause, anticipated duration, and repair of an outage, the more satisfied their customers will be with their overall service.”
Michael W. Kahn is a staff writer at NRECA.