Less than a month after being ranked lowest in business customer satisfaction in a consumer research report, Central Maine Power Co. sits again near the bottom of a list from J.D. Power. This time, Versant Power joins CMP on an annual report on electric utility residential customer satisfaction.
Both utilities rank nearly at the bottom nationwide.
The firm issued its 2022 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study today, which gave CMP, Maine’s largest electrical utility, a score of 607, while Versant scored 617. That put both utilities at the bottom of their respective classes.
Out of 145 utilities, CMP was second from the bottom, with only Houston-based CenterPoint Energy scoring lower, with 593. Versant came in third from last, just above CMP.
Just last month, the firm released a similar report ranking utilities for business customer satisfaction. In that report, CMP ranked last nationwide out of 76 utilities. Versant was not included in that report.
“Overall satisfaction is lower primarily because of a big drop in price satisfaction nationally,” John Hazen, managing director of utility intelligence at J.D. Power, said in a statement. “Utilities need to be sensitive to the financial challenges that some customers are experiencing. Increasing communications regarding assistance programs that may be available, along with energy efficiency programs, can increase overall satisfaction by as much as 72 points.”
CMP President and CEO Joseph Purington issued a statement in response to the JD Power report noting as JD Power did that customer satisfaction is lower everywhere.
“Given the increasing burden of the cost of the supply of electricity across the country, it is no surprise that the JD Power rankings of the entire utility industry are down,” Purington wrote. “We are living in challenging times and given the historic energy supply cost increases from out-of-state generation companies, we understand that customers are struggling, and those sentiments are reflected in these results.”
Purington also defended his company’s efforts to be aware of CMP customers’ needs.
“Since December 2021, CMP has been actively reaching out to customers to offer energy management tools, payment options and information on sources of assistance,” he wrote. “We understand how our customers are feeling because we talk to them every day.”
Versant Power also issued a statement in response to the JD Power report, arguing that the survey doesn’t accurately reflect Versant’s customer base.
“While Versant Power seriously considers results of national JD Power surveys, alongside other sources of customer feedback and engagement, we don’t have direct control of all electricity services measured,” the company wrote. “The very small sample of recorded opinions on electricity services – a number of services, including supply, that aren’t actually provided by Versant Power – does not fully represent the experiences of 160,000-plus customers who see us providing essential services in their communities and helping them navigate a complicated energy landscape.”
According to JD Power, “the 2022 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from 102,879 online interviews conducted from January 2022 through November 2022 among residential customers of the 145 largest electric utility brands across the United States, which represent more than 105 million households.”
According to CMP’s website, the company services more than 636,000 customers and is owned by Avangrid, a U.S. company that in turn is owned largely by Spanish company Iberdola.
Versant, with nearly 160,000 customer accounts, is owned by Enmax, a company based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.
Last month, the Maine secretary of state’s office announced a petition to replace CMP and Versant with a publicly owned utility had enough signatures to make it onto the November 2023 ballot as a referendum question.