Among electric retail providers in Texas, Green Mountain Energy Co. ranks highest in customer satisfaction, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2008 Texas Residential Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study.
The inaugural study measures customer satisfaction with retail electric providers in Texas by examining four key factors (listed in order of importance): pricing, billing and payment, communications and customer service. Starting in 2002, the Electric Reliability Council of Texas opened portions of the residential electric utility market in the state to retail competition. According to the Public Utility Commission of Texas, 42 percent of Texas residential customers were served by competitive retail electric providers by the end of 2007, totaling approximately 5.1 million households.
Green Mountain Energy Co. achieves a score of 716 on a 1,000-point scale and performs particularly well in three of the four factors: billing and payment, communication and customer service. Stream Energy (687) and Reliant Energy Retail (659) follow Green Mountain Energy Co. in the rankings. Stream Energy performs particularly well in the pricing factor.
"By providing superior levels of customer satisfaction, Green Mountain Energy Co. has also achieved notably high levels of customer advocacy and loyalty," said Jeff Conklin, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "A high percentage of Green Mountain Energy Co. customers say that they would definitely recommend their electric retailer to family and friends, and these customers also make many more positive recommendations about their provider, compared with customers of other electric retailers in Texas."
The study finds that customers who select a "green" pricing plan -- for which electricity is produced using renewable resources such as solar, wind or geothermal power -- report paying more for electric service, on average, than do customers subscribing to other types of pricing plans. Customers subscribing to green power plans report paying an average of $202 per month, while customers on fixed price plans report spending $178 per month, on average. Customers with variable price plans report paying an average of $170 per month. However, green power customers are also more satisfied with their electric service, on average. Overall satisfaction for customers on green power plans averages 716, compared with satisfaction of fixed-price plan subscribers (674) and variable-price plan subscribers (606).
The study also includes the following key findings:
- Nearly one-half (43%) of customers say they initially signed up with their retail electric provider more than four years ago.
- Approximately 35 percent of respondents report that they switched providers within the past 24 months.
- Respondents who have switched providers within the past 24 months are more satisfied (with satisfaction scores averaging 674) than customers who have remained with their provider for more than four years (609).
The 2008 Texas Residential Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study is based on responses from more than 2,500 online interviews conducted in June 2008 among residential customers of electric retailers in Texas.