J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Among Residential Customers of Natural Gas Utilities, Satisfaction with Billing and Payment and Customer Service Improve Notably from 2010

CenterPoint Energy—Midwest; Citizens Gas; CPS Energy; Intermountain Gas Company; Metropolitan Utilities District; New Jersey Natural Gas; NSTAR Gas; PSNC Energy; and Southern California Gas Company Each Rank Highest in Residential Natural Gas Utility Customer Satisfaction

Sep 21, 2011, 09:26 ET from J.D. Power and Associates

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Sept. 21, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- Although a sizable proportion of residential natural gas customers say their financial situation has worsened from 2010, satisfaction with billing and payment and customer service from gas utilities has improved, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2011 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study(SM) released today.

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The study, now in its 10th 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 with natural gas utility companies remains stable, averaging 627 on a 1,000-point scale in 2011, compared with 629 in 2010.

Nearly two in five gas utility customers (37%) indicate they are financially worse off in 2011, compared with 2010. Despite this, satisfaction with billing and payment and customer service from gas utility companies improves notably. Satisfaction with billing and payment increases to 718 in 2011 from 706 in 2010. Similarly, satisfaction with customer service improves to 720 in 2011 from 708 in 2010.

Within the billing factor, satisfaction has increased most with the usefulness of information on bills and the amount of time customers are given to pay their bill.

Within the customer service factor, satisfaction has improved most notably with the ease of navigating customer service phone systems and the promptness in speaking to a person.

"Even during tough economic times, when many of their customers are facing financial hardships, there are concrete actions that gas utilities can take to mitigate losses in satisfaction," said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Providing customers with the billing information they want in a format they can understand is vital, as is ensuring that payment timeline flexibility is offered to customers facing financial challenges. In addition, ensuring that customer service systems are easy to navigate and that customer service representatives are courteous and helpful are critical in keeping customers satisfied."

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.

East Region

Among large utilities in the East region, New Jersey Natural Gas ranks highest for a third consecutive year. Following in the segment rankings are UGI Utilities and National Fuel Gas, respectively.

In the East region midsize utility segment, NSTAR Gas ranks highest, followed by Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania and Yankee Gas, respectively.

Midwest Region

CenterPoint Energy—Midwest ranks highest among large utilities in the Midwest region, followed by MidAmerican Energy and Atmos Energy—Midwest, respectively.

Among midsize utilities in this region, Metropolitan Utilities District and Citizens Gas each rank highest in a tie. Metropolitan Utilities District ranks highest in the segment for a second consecutive year. Following in the segment rankings is Louisville Gas & Electric.

South Region

PSNC Energy ranks highest among large gas utility providers in the South region, followed by Oklahoma Natural Gas and Texas Gas Service.

Among midsize providers in this region, CPS Energy ranks highest for a second consecutive year. Following in the segment rankings is TECO Peoples Gas, while South Carolina Electric & Gas and Virginia Natural Gas rank third in a tie.

West Region

Southern California Gas Company ranks highest among large utilities in the West region. Following in the segment rankings are NW Natural and Questar Gas, respectively.

Among midsize providers in this region, Intermountain Gas Company ranks highest, followed by Colorado Springs Utilities and Avista.

The 2011 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on more than 62,000 responses from residential customers of the 75 largest gas utilities across the continental United States. These utilities serve nearly 54 million households. The study was fielded between September 2010 and July 2011.

East Region: Large Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

New Jersey Natural Gas

635

UGI Utilities

624

National Fuel Gas

617

Washington Gas

612

Public Service Electric & Gas

610

Baltimore Gas & Electric

608

East Large Segment Average

606

National Grid

601

PECO

597

Con Edison

590

Philadelphia Gas Works

581




East Region: Midsize Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

NSTAR Gas

622

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania

620

Yankee Gas

618

Elizabethtown Gas

614

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

613

East Midsize Segment Average

609

Equitable Gas

608

Rochester Gas & Electric

604

South Jersey Gas Company

601

Peoples Natural Gas

598

NYSEG

585




Midwest Region: Large Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

CenterPoint Energy—Midwest

652

MidAmerican Energy

648

Atmos Energy—Midwest

629

Vectren

628

Xcel Energy—Midwest

628

DTE Energy—MichCon

627

We Energies

626

Black Hills Energy

622

Columbia Gas of Ohio

620

Kansas Gas Service

615

Midwest Large Segment Average

614

NIPSCO

613

Laclede Gas

610

Consumers Energy

606

Missouri Gas Energy

601

Nicor Gas

592

Peoples Gas

587

Ameren Illinois Utilities

577




Midwest Region: Midsize Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

Citizens Gas

647

Metropolitan Utilities District

647

Louisville Gas & Electric

631

Minnesota Energy Resources

630

Alliant Energy

629

Wisconsin Public Service

623

Midwest Midsize Segment Average

623

Dominion East Ohio Gas

618

Duke Energy

600

SEMCO Energy Gas Company

598




South Region: Large Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

PSNC Energy

658

Oklahoma Natural Gas

654

Texas Gas Service

653

Atmos Energy—South

645

South Large Segment Average

645

CenterPoint Energy—South

643

Piedmont Natural Gas

637

Alagasco

635




South Region: Midsize Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

CPS Energy

660

TECO Peoples Gas

657

South Carolina Electric & Gas

642

Virginia Natural Gas

642

Columbia Gas of Virginia

638

South Midsize Segment Average

634

Mountaineer Gas Company

599

MLGW

590




West Region: Large Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

Southern California Gas Company

671

NW Natural

668

Questar Gas

654

Southwest Gas

649

Puget Sound Energy

644

West Large Segment Average

643

San Diego Gas & Electric

628

Pacific Gas and Electric

617

New Mexico Gas Company

610

Xcel Energy—West

606




West Region: Midsize Segment

(Based on a 1,000-point scale)


Utility

Index score

Intermountain Gas Company

647

Colorado Springs Utilities

641

Avista

634

West Midsize Segment Average

632

Montana-Dakota Utilities Company

628

Cascade Natural Gas

625

NorthWestern Energy

618




About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing forecasting, performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and solutions.  The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies is a leading global financial information and education company that helps professionals and students succeed in the Knowledge Economy. With leading brands including Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates, the Corporation has approximately 21,000 employees with more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2010 were $6.2 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

Media Relations Contacts:
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John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4119; media.relations@jdpa.com

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