Utilities’ environmental scores rise in new consumer survey

LIVONIA—Many of the nation’s electric and gas utilities are getting good news on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day: customers are scoring them significantly higher on environmental stewardship.

The Environmental Dedication Index from the Livonia-based human behavior and analytics firm Escalent finds that the overall utility index score improved this year, with customers scoring their utilities higher on encouraging “green” initiatives for buildings and vehicles and on supporting environmental causes.

The Environmental Dedication Index and other findings are from the Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement Residential study.

The industry’s overall Environmental Dedication Index score increased to 676 (on a 1,000-point scale) for 2020’s first quarter. However, performance varies greatly among the 140 utilities covered in the study, with 24 significantly increasing their scores this year and 20 significantly decreasing. Other findings from the study include:

• More than 52 percent of utility customers are strong believers in climate change and as a group, they score utilities higher (708) on environmental dedication.

• Gen Z is the most critical of utility environmental performance; scoring utilities lower than other generations on environmental dedication.

• Millennials rate utilities highest on providing “products that help the environment.”

• Only about one in five consumers is aware of his or her utility’s efforts to lessen the environmental impacts of its services.

• About 13 percent of utility customers say green or net metering rates is their most preferred rate plan.

• Over half of all utility customers nationally are interested in rooftop solar or community solar offerings.

Detroit-based DTE Energy was one of 30 utilities rated as a 2020 Environmental Champion in the survey.

Escalent conducted surveys among 69,620 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest American utility companies based on residential customer counts. The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on U.S. Census data to ensure a demographically balanced sample of each evaluated utility’s customers based on age, gender, income, race and ethnicity. Utilities within the same region and of the same type (e.g., electric-only providers) are given equal weight in order to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results.

More at www.escalent.co.

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