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J.D. Power and Associates Reports: The Average Monthly Bill of Residential Customers of Natural Gas Utilities Declines for a Fourth Consecutive Year

Citizens Gas; Intermountain Gas Company; MidAmerican Energy; New Jersey Natural Gas; NSTAR Gas; Oklahoma Natural Gas; South Carolina Electric & Gas; and Southern California Gas Company Each Rank Highest in Residential Natural Gas Utility Customer Satisfaction in Their Respective Regions

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WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Sept. 19, 2012 /PRNewswire/ -- Residential natural gas customer satisfaction increases by seven points year over year, as the average reported monthly bill in 2012, $78, decreases by $9 from 2011, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction StudySM released today.

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The study, now in its 11th 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 has increased slightly, averaging 634 (on a 1,000-point scale), compared with 627 in 2011.

Residential natural gas customer satisfaction with price is 570, an increase of 14 points from 2011. In addition to the decline in monthly bill amount, a lower proportion of customers recall hearing about natural gas price increases from their utility provider in 2012 (24%), compared with 2011 (29%). Further, when customers are aware of energy-efficiency programs offered by their utility, satisfaction with price is 87 points higher than when they are not aware of these programs.

"Each year, as natural gas prices continue to drop, satisfaction with price will continue to be positively affected," said John Hazen, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Additionally, both communication and customer service efforts by utility providers are also contributing to the overall satisfaction increases from last year."

Communication and Customer Service
The study finds that the media is presenting a more positive portrayal of gas utilities, with the proportion of customers recalling positive media coverage increasing by 6 percent year over year to 27 percent in 2012. Adding to the positive trend in communications, the percentage of customers who recall having received a communication from their utility has increased to 44 percent in 2012 from 35 percent in 2011.

Gas utilities are also improving their ability to resolve customer problems the first time they contact the utility, as the rate of first-call resolution has improved to 76 percent in 2012, compared with 70 percent in 2011. This improvement, along with a 10-point increase in customer satisfaction with the online experience, has contributed to a 14-point improvement in customer service satisfaction from 2011.

"Areas such as customer service and communications are very personal to customers and provide an opportunity for utilities to make a significant impact on customer satisfaction," said Hazen. "Utilities that make the most of these opportunities often perform well in overall satisfaction."

The study ranks large and midsize utility companies in four geographic regions: East, Midwest, South and West. Companies in the midsize utility segment 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 fourth consecutive year. Following in the segment rankings are UGI Utilities and PECO, respectively.

In the East region midsize utility segment, NSTAR Gas ranks highest, followed by Yankee Gas and South Jersey Gas, respectively.

Midwest Region
MidAmerican Energy ranks highest among large utilities in the Midwest region, followed by We Energies and DTE Energy, respectively.

Among midsize utilities in the region, Citizens Gas ranks highest, followed by Metropolitan Utilities District and Alliant Energy, respectively.

South Region 
Oklahoma Natural Gas ranks highest in the large utility segment in the South region, followed by PSNC Energy and CenterPoint Energy-South, respectively.

Among midsize utilities in this region, South Carolina Electric & Gas ranks highest. Following in the segment rankings are TECO Peoples Gas and CPS Energy, respectively.

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

Among midsize utilities in this region, Intermountain Gas Company ranks highest for a third consecutive year, followed by Cascade Natural Gas and Avista, respectively.

The 2012 Gas Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on more than 63,500 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 2011 and July 2012.

East Region: Large Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

New Jersey Natural Gas 

655

UGI

633

PECO

620

PSE&G

619

BGE

617

National Fuel Gas

617

Segment Average 

616

National Grid

614

Washington Gas

610

Con Edison

603

Philadelphia Gas Works

587

East Region: Midsize Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

NSTAR Gas

646

Yankee Gas

635

South Jersey Gas

632

Columbia Gas of Pennsylvania

629

Segment Average

622

Elizabethtown Gas

621

Rochester Gas & Electric

619

Columbia Gas of Massachusetts

618

NYSEG

616

Peoples Natural Gas

602

Equitable Gas

599

Midwest Region: Large Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

MidAmerican Energy

662

We Energies

644

DTE Energy

642

CenterPoint Energy–Midwest

640

Atmos Energy–Midwest

637

Xcel Energy–Midwest

635

Black Hills Energy

632

Columbia Gas of Ohio

629

NIPSCO

627

Vectren

626

Consumers Energy

625

Segment Average

624

Kansas Gas Service

621

Laclede Gas

617

Missouri Gas Energy

607

Nicor Gas

601

Ameren Illinois

598

Peoples Gas

590

Midwest Region: Midsize Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Citizens Gas

655

Metropolitan Utilities District

646

Alliant Energy

636

Minnesota Energy Resources

632

Wisconsin Public Service

631

Segment Average

630

Duke Energy

629

Louisville Gas & Electric

626

Dominion East Ohio Gas

613

SEMCO Energy Gas Company

605

South Region: Large Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Oklahoma Natural Gas

680

PSNC Energy

665

CenterPoint Energy–South

664

Segment Average

658

Texas Gas Service

655

Alagasco

651

Atmos Energy–South

649

Piedmont Natural Gas

648

South Region: Midsize Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

South Carolina Electric & Gas

680

TECO Peoples Gas

670

CPS Energy

664

Virginia Natural Gas

648

Segment Average

647

Columbia Gas of Virginia

641

MLGW

609

Mountaineer Gas Company

603

West Region: Large Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Southern California Gas Company

678

NW Natural

672

Questar Gas

661

Southwest Gas

652

Segment Average

642

San Diego Gas & Electric

625

Puget Sound Energy

623

New Mexico Gas Company

620

Pacific Gas and Electric

604

Xcel Energy–West

601

West Region: Midsize Segment
(Based on a 1,000-point scale)

Intermountain Gas Company

663

Cascade Natural Gas

651

Avista

643

Segment Average

643

Montana-Dakota Utilities

636

Colorado Springs Utilities

635

NorthWestern Energy

621

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a global marketing information services company providing 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 
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading education company focused on digital learning and education services worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011, the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Media Relations Contacts:
John Tews; J.D. Power and Associates; Troy, Mich.; (248) 312-4119; media.relations@jdpa.com 
Syvetril Perryman; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805) 418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. www.jdpower.com

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates



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