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High Marks for Electric Co-ops in J. D. Power Study


The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association this week reported that a dozen electric co-ops in the U.S. are outperforming the national average when it comes to price, reliability and customer service. ECT Staff Writer Michael W. Kahn wrote this press release:

A new J.D. Power study gives a dozen electric cooperatives above-average scores.

More than 104,000 residential consumers served by 138 electric utilities nationwide responded to the 2014 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study. It asked about several factors, including price, reliability and customer service.

J.D. Power found that overall satisfaction in the residential electric study increased by four index points from the survey taken a year earlier. Jeff Conklin, J.D. Power’s senior director of energy practice, cited two key factors.

“Residential electric utilities have done a great job adding capabilities for proactive communications about outages and upping their corporate citizenship,” said Conklin.

But he cautioned against resting on laurels—noting that improvement in electric utility satisfaction levels isn’t keeping pace with what the firm is seeing in the television and telecom industries.

“Consumers are becoming more familiar with a higher level of service in their daily activities with other service providers and, as a result, their expectations are rising,” Conklin said.

One place where consumers are happy is Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative. It ranked highest among midsized utilities in the East.

“In the seven years that we have received this honor, we increased our score from 641 in 2008 to 703 in 2014,” said Austin J. Slater, Jr., president and CEO of Hughesville-based SMECO.

“We continue to focus on improving reliability and customer service, adapting business processes so we can make it easier for customers to do business with us, and expanding communications so we can meet customers where they are,” Slater added.

Eleven southern co-ops scored above the average for midsized electric utilities in that region, including Sawnee EMC.

“We are again very honored to have our staff’s hard work and dedication acknowledged by a nationally acclaimed surveying organization such as J.D. Power,” said Michael A. Goodroe, president and CEO of Cumming, Georgia-based Sawnee EMC.

“It is a confirmation of what our members continue to tell us each year during our in-house surveys,” Goodroe added, “and we are very appreciative.”

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