News, Plant Optimization, POWERGEN

OUC leads utilities named Trusted Brands due to COVID-19 response

MERS virus, Meadle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus

The electric power industry’s prompt and generous response to the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed it to an all-time high in customer trust ratings, according to a well-known annual study.

The Cogent Syndicated Brand Trust Index named 44 utilities among its 2020 Most Trusted Brands list. The index totaled a record high score of 696 (on a 1,000-point scale), according to the residential study led by behavior and analytics firm Escalent.

Orlando Utilities Commission scored at a nation-best 752 points in the electric service category, while Kentucky Utilities tallied at 751. Other power generation providers scored at 700 points or above include Florida Power & light, AEP Ohio, Black Hills Energy, PSE&G, PPL, MidAmerican Energy, Xcel, Ameren, Wisconsin Public Service, Idaho Power, ComEd, DTE and more. Orlando Utilities Commission was host utility for POWERGEN 2018.

“It is clear from our research the utility industry has done a fantastic job supporting customers through the pandemic. This has won utilities the trust and goodwill of their customers,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “The utility industry is used to handling crises and quickly provided customer support. Awareness of utility COVID-19 efforts was supported by higher communications recall, the high quality of customer service interactions, and providing more value-added recommendations during service.”

MERS virus, Meadle-East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus

Customers rated the utilities a historically high score of 7.2 (on a 10 scale) for how they responded to the crisis. Scores of utilities suspended disconnection programs, provided bill forgiveness and donates millions to the fight against the coronavirus which has claimed more than 120,000 lives in the U.S. and 400,000 worldwide.

The Brand Trust Index is a composite score of utility performance on customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and reputation. Although customer trust in utilities had been increasing before the pandemic, the industry’s effective response to COVID-19 accelerated this trend.

CenterPoint Energy, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Puget Sound, Seattle City Light, Duke Energy Midwest, Salt River Project and Dayton Power & Light also were among the 44 trusted utilities named in the Cogent survey.