Georgia Co-op joins PPL, Salt River Project atop JD Power Customer Study

Move over Golden State Warriors and Alabama Crimson Tide. Salt River Project and PPL Electric Utilities are the real time-tested perennial champions.

Phoenix-based SRP topped the west large segment of the JD Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study for the 17th straight year. Pennsylvania’s PPL, meanwhile, earned honors in the east large category for the seventh year in a row.

In fact, the electric utility segment overall showed improvement for a seventh straight year. Penn Power, MidAmerican Energy, Kentucky Utilities, Georgia Power, EPB and Clark Public Utilities all headed their respective regions and size categories, while Georgia’s Sawnee EMC scored highest among cooperatives and all brands.

“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, in a statement.

Some other high-scoring utilities, such as Florida Power & Light and CPS Energy, dealt effectively with the aftermath of major storms over the past year. Customers seemed to appreciate the response efforts.

“Power outages are going to happen,” Hazen added. “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.”

JD Power queried customers through some 104,000 online interviews over the past year. Those customers are serviced by the 138 largest electric utility brands across the U.S. reaching some 99 million households. The scores are on a 1,000-point scale and included factors ranging from power quality, reliability, billing and payment to corporate citizenship, communications and customer services.

Rural customers in Georgia must really love their cooperatives. Sawnee Electric Membership Corp., a cooperative based in Cumming,  Georgia, gained the highest score nationwide with 804 points, while Snellville, Ga.-based Walton EMC was a close second with 800. Among utilities, EPB—or the Electric Power Board of Chattanooga, Tenn., had the highest score at 794, while perennial favorite SRP scored 782.

SRP has dominated the large west category going back to when Bill Clinton was president. It has scored highest in 19 of the 20 JD Power studies. Power ranks large utilities as those with 500,000 or more residential customers.

“How we are perceived by our customers is extremely important to everything we do at SRP, from providing reliable electricity to offering a wide variety of programs and services to help our customers make smart choices about energy usage and saving money,” CEO Mike Hummel said in a company statement. “No two families are the same, which is why we listen to our customers and work them to determine what options will work best for them.”

Aside from SRP and PPL, other regional repeat winners were Clark Public Utilities (Washington state), Georgia Power and Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy.

Go here for more detail on the 20th annual JD Power Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Survey.