Brand Trust Spikes as Utilities Spend More on Communication

June 24, 2021

Escalent Names 38 Utilities 2021 Most Trusted Brands

Customer trust in utility companies spiked to the highest score ever on the Escalent utility Brand Trust Index (706 on a 1,000-point scale) due to spending roughly 16% more to communicate about product options, environmental efforts, and how they partnered with customers on shared priorities during the pandemic. The communications were well received by utility customers, as the Communications Effectiveness metric posted the highest average score (738) among the six factors that compose Brand Trust. This information is part of the 2021 Cogent Syndicated Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.

The Brand Trust Index is a composite score of utility performance on customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and company reputation. Among these six factors, Customer Focus has increased the most during the year (13 points) followed by Company Reputation (12 points) and Community Support (11 points).

“Starting active conversations with customers on how their utility can partner with and support them throughout the challenges faced this past year has strongly positioned utilities as trusted energy advisers and great corporate citizens,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “Our research shows that nearly all utilities provide great service levels, but an elite group has been able to build trusted brands that empower customers with valuable offerings and value-added information. The most trusted utility brands include utilities that are making a positive impact on their customers, communities and financials.”

Key findings from the study include:

  • Customers with high brand trust use an average of nine enhanced utility offerings compared with only four for customers with low trust levels.
  • Two in three (62%) of those with high brand trust use utility digital options.
  • High brand trust increases customer acceptance of utility rate changes by 23%.
  • Customer trust is built over time, as new customers give lower Brand Trust scores than those who’ve been customers longer.
  • The utility industry should focus on low-income customers ($25K or less annual household income), as they post lower Brand Trust scores than customers with higher income levels.
  • High brand trust minimizes the negative-perception impacts from outage, safety and other critical events, while increasing customer advocacy and loyalty.

Escalent congratulates the 2021 Most Trusted Brands among utilities. These 38 utilities have developed industry-leading customer trust levels.

Cogent Syndicated 2021 Most Trusted Utility Brands
Avista Intermountain Gas Company PSE&G
Cascade Natural Gas Kentucky Utilities RG&E
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest New Jersey Natural Gas Rocky Mountain Power
Colorado Springs Utilities Nicor Gas Salt River Project
Columbia Gas – South NW Natural SMUD
Columbia Gas of Ohio Oklahoma Natural Gas TECO Peoples Gas
CPS Energy OPPD Toledo Edison
DTE Energy OUC Tucson Electric Power
Elizabethtown Gas PECO UGI Utilities
Florida Power & Light Peoples Gas Washington Gas
Georgia Power Pepco Wisconsin Public Service
Green Mountain Power Portland General Electric Xcel Energy – West
Idaho Power PPL Electric Utilities

The following tables reflect regional peer benchmark Brand Trust scores among the 140 utilities surveyed. These scores reflect the amount of trust customers have with each utility.


East Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand trust score
PECO Combination 733
PSE&G Combination 726
RG&E Combination 716
Con Edison Combination 708
Delmarva Power Combination 708
National Grid Combination 706
BGE Combination 685
NYSEG Combination 653
Eversource Energy Combination 636
Pepco Electric 742
Green Mountain Power Electric 741
PPL Electric Utilities Electric 736
Penn Power Electric 708
Duquesne Light Electric 700
Met-Ed Electric 696
Penelec Electric 690
West Penn Power Electric 687
Potomac Edison Electric 683
Atlantic City Electric Electric 679
Appalachian Power Electric 670
Mon Power Electric 663
Jersey Central Power & Light Electric 627
PSEG Long Island Electric 625
Central Maine Power Electric 623
Elizabethtown Gas Natural Gas 751
Washington Gas Natural Gas 749
UGI Utilities Natural Gas 742
New Jersey Natural Gas Natural Gas 738
National Fuel Gas Natural Gas 723
Peoples Natural Gas 722
South Jersey Gas Company Natural Gas 716
Philadelphia Gas Works Natural Gas 714
Midwest Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand trust score
DTE Energy Combination 758
Wisconsin Public Service Combination 755
Black Hills Energy – Midwest Combination 736
Montana Dakota Utilities Combination 736
Xcel Energy – Midwest Combination 730
Ameren Illinois Combination 726
Consumers Energy Combination 722
MidAmerican Energy Combination 719
Duke Energy Midwest Combination 718
Alliant Energy Combination 717
NIPSCO Combination 686
We Energies Combination 674
Vectren Combination 666
Toledo Edison Electric 713
OPPD Electric 709
The Illuminating Company Electric 693
AEP Ohio Electric 692
Ohio Edison Electric 692
ComEd Electric 690
AES Ohio Electric 689
Ameren Missouri Electric 684
AES Indiana Electric 680
Indiana Michigan Power Electric 680
Evergy Electric 671
Columbia Gas of Ohio Natural Gas 737
Peoples Gas Natural Gas 724
Nicor Gas Natural Gas 723
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest Natural Gas 720
Spire Missouri – East Natural Gas 715
Dominion Energy Ohio Natural Gas 712
Atmos Energy – Midwest Natural Gas 708
Kansas Gas Service Natural Gas 705
Citizens Energy Natural Gas 697
Spire Missouri – West Natural Gas 694
South Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand trust score
CPS Energy Combination 714
Louisville Gas & Electric Combination 688
Dominion Energy South Carolina Combination 682
MLGW Combination 644
Kentucky Utilities Electric 745
OUC Electric 742
Florida Power & Light Electric 739
Georgia Power Electric 733
Entergy Texas Electric 723
Entergy Mississippi Electric 721
Entergy Arkansas Electric 716
TECO Tampa Electric Electric 716
Alabama Power Electric 713
Dominion Energy Virginia Electric 711
Entergy Louisiana Electric 711
Mississippi Power Electric 710
Nashville Electric Service Electric 710
OG&E Electric 710
Southwest Electric Power Company Electric 708
Xcel Energy – South Electric 706
Public Service Company of Oklahoma Electric 703
El Paso Electric Electric 701
Duke Energy Florida Electric 697
Duke Energy Carolinas Electric 695
Gulf Power Electric 692
JEA Electric 684
Austin Energy Electric 682
Duke Energy Progress Electric 664
Entergy New Orleans Electric 662
Kentucky Power Electric 656
Columbia Gas – South Natural Gas 768
TECO Peoples Gas Natural Gas 760
Oklahoma Natural Gas Natural Gas 746
Piedmont Natural Gas Natural Gas 740
Florida City Gas Company Natural Gas 739
CenterPoint Energy – South Natural Gas 733
Virginia Natural Gas Natural Gas 729
Dominion Energy North Carolina Natural Gas 727
Spire Alabama Natural Gas 724
Texas Gas Service Natural Gas 724
Atmos Energy – South Natural Gas 721
Spire Mississippi Natural Gas 716
Chattanooga Gas Company Natural Gas 708
Spire Gulf Coast Natural Gas 656

West Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand trust score
Xcel Energy – West Combination 734
Avista Combination 726
Colorado Springs Utilities Combination 721
NorthWestern Energy Combination 705
Puget Sound Energy Combination 697
SDG&E Combination 688
Black Hills Energy – West Combination 658
PG&E Combination 626
Salt River Project Electric 740
Idaho Power Electric 736
Portland General Electric Electric 730
SMUD Electric 726
Tucson Electric Power Electric 726
Rocky Mountain Power Electric 720
Seattle City Light Electric 717
Southern California Edison Electric 701
Pacific Power Electric 694
NV Energy Electric 676
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Electric 666
PNM Electric 665
APS Electric 641
Cascade Natural Gas Natural Gas 760
Intermountain Gas Company Natural Gas 759
NW Natural Natural Gas 751
SoCalGas Natural Gas 735
Dominion Energy West Natural Gas 714
Southwest Gas Natural Gas 704
New Mexico Gas Company Natural Gas 702

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 76,656 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 140 largest US utility companies (based on residential customer counts). The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on US 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 to balance the influence of each utility’s customers on survey results. The Brand Trust index score is a composite based upon consumer ratings across six factors. Escalent will supply the exact wording of any survey question upon request.


Click below to learn more about the full study.

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