Electric utilities lack the customer support they need to meet sustainability goals, says JD Power

While most utilities have aggressive carbon reduction targets, few have solid plans to execute them and fewer need customer outreach to achieve them.

TROY, Michigan, July 21, 2022–(BUSINESS WIRE)–Judging solely from their annual reports, press releases and public talking points, electric utilities across the country are all about reducing carbon emissions. A large majority (81%) of electric utility customers1 are now served by a utility with a stated carbon reduction target. However, many utilities do not have plans disclosed or validated by independent groups such as CDP or the Science-Based Targets Initiative (SBTi). According to the JD Power 2022 Sustainability Index, released today, even fewer utilities have the customer awareness and support they will need to achieve their goals.

“If the aggressive carbon reduction targets that most utilities have in place are to be met, customers will need to play a key role, both in changing their current energy consumption habits and in supporting the funding needed to improve infrastructure and provide clean energy sources,” said Andrew Heath, Senior Director of Utility Intelligence at JD Power. “Right now, even the best performing utilities are not where they should be in terms of customer engagement, awareness and support for sustainability initiatives.”

Here are some key findings from the 2022 index:

  • Persistent low consumer awareness of utility climate initiatives: The overall sustainability scores of electric utilities assessed in the study – which are based on consumer awareness, engagement and advocacy for their local utility’s climate initiatives – are 28 (on a scale of 100 points), up just one point from 2021.

  • Engagement and awareness of utility sustainability initiatives remains stubbornly low: Only 6% of residential electricity utility customers and 28% of business customers use environmental products and services. Similarly, only 41% of residential customers and 56% of business customers are aware of their utility’s efforts to improve their impact on the environment.

  • Despite low engagement, many customers care about climate change: Nearly half (49%) of electricity utility customers think climate change is a “serious” or “very serious” issue. Utilities serving coastal customers in the northeast and west have the highest percentage of customers concerned about climate change, with many serving 60% or more of customers who think climate change is an issue severe.

  • Few utilities have a clear carbon reduction plan/targets that meet the highest level of ambition: According to CDP,2 only 23 of the 65 rated electric utilities receive a grade of B- or better for their disclosed carbon reduction plans. Only two have committed to setting science-based targets, according to the SBTi.3

The JD Power Sustainability Index assesses electric utility customers’ awareness, support, engagement, and advocacy of their local utility’s climate sustainability programs and goals. The index applies to the 35 largest U.S. electric utility companies and cities, each serving 500,000 or more residential customers and is based on responses from 71,959 commercial and residential electric utility customers and a was put into service from June 2021 to May 2022.

Below is the full list of rated electric utility companies and cities, along with their index scores:

Utility

2022 Sustainability Index Score

NextEra Energy

34

Sacramento Municipal Utility District

34

Energy DTE

33

Portland General Electric

32

Salt River Project

32

Puget Energy

31

Xcel Energy

31

OGE Energy Corp.

30

Pacific Gas and Electricity

30

Southern Company

30

Berkshire Hathaway Energy

29

CMS Energy

29

SPC Energy

29

Edison International

29

Emera

29

LA Department of Water and Power

29

West Pinnacle

29

American

28

With Edison

28

Domination

28

Hall

28

Sempra Energy

28

Industry average

28

duke energy

27

Exelon

27

Allied energy

26

Evergy

26

PSEG

26

WEC Energy Group

26

AEP

25

PPL Company

25

Eversource

24

national grid

24

Avangrid

23

Duquesne Light

21

FirstEnergy

21

For more information on the JD Power Durability Index, visit
https://www.jdpower.com/business/sustainability-certification-program.

See the press release online at http://www.jdpower.com/pr-id/2022085.

About JD Power

J.D. Power is a global leader in consumer insights, advisory services, data and analytics. A pioneer in using big data, artificial intelligence (AI) and algorithmic modeling capabilities to understand consumer behavior, JD Power has been providing incisive industry insights into customer interactions with brands and brands for more than 50 years. products. The world’s leading companies in key industries trust JD Power to guide their customer-facing strategies.

JD Power has offices in North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. To learn more about the company’s business offerings, visit JDPower.com/business. The JD Power auto buy tool is available at JDPower.com.

About JD Power and Advertising/Promotional Rules: www.jdpower.com/business/about-us/press-release-info

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1 SEPA Utility Carbon-Reduction Tracker.™ Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). Retrieved July 10, 2022, from https://sepasandbox.wpengine.com/utility-transformation-challenge/utility-carbon-reduction-tracker.

2 Source: www.cdp.net 2021 Climate Change Assessments for US Electric Utilities, July 2022.

3 Source: www.sciencebasedtargets.org Business in Action, July 2022.

See the source version on businesswire.com: https://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20220721005308/en/

contacts

Geno Effler, JD Power; Western coast; 714-621-6224; [email protected]
John Roderick; East Coast; 631-584-2200; [email protected]

Joseph P. Harris