Business Customers Question Their Utility’s Commitment to Communities and the Environment

July 7, 2022

Businesses’ trust in their utility is on the decline and more than one factor is to blame. After reaching a historic peak in the Brand Trust Index in the first half of 2021, the overall industry utility Brand Trust score among business customers has declined 17 points to a 765 on a 1,000-point index. Declines in awareness of utilities’ charitable giving and donations, employee volunteering, and environmental stewardship are causing business customers to trust their utilities less. These and other findings are from the Cogent Syndicated 2022 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study from Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.

Each year, Escalent measures the Brand Trust Index of 82 of the nation’s utilities among their business customers. The Brand Trust Index is a composite score of utility performance on customer focus, business community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and company reputation. Among these six factors, Environmental Dedication sees the biggest drop, down 18 points. This signals a perception that utilities’ commitment to using environmentally friendly energy and supporting environmental causes are declining.

“Businesses are increasingly focused on the environmental impact of their electric service,” said K.C. Boyce, vice president in Escalent’s energy and automotive & mobility divisions. “While the perception that a utility is ‘committed to using environmentally friendly energy’ didn’t drop significantly among natural gas utilities, it did among electric and combination utilities. In terms of electric generation, businesses have a strong preference for solar, natural gas and wind.”

Boyce continued, “Our Communications Intensity Index has dropped 15% from last year, with a big overall drop in the number of total communications recalled. This means that even though utilities are talking to their business customers, they’re not reinforcing the messages with multiple communications. Utilities that promote their contributions to local communities and the environment will build trust among their customers and maximize their positive impact.”

While the industry sees a decline in Brand Trust overall, there are utilities performing better than the average. Today, we’re pleased to announce the following 16 utilities as our 2022 Trusted Business Partners.

Cogent Syndicated 2022 Utility Trusted Business Partners*
Alabama Power OG&E
CenterPoint Energy – South Puget Sound Energy
Con Edison Salt River Project
DTE Energy Seattle City Light
Florida Power & Light TECO Peoples Gas
Georgia Power TECO Tampa Electric
Mississippi Power Xcel Energy Colorado

 * Utilities named as Trusted Business Partners are selected based on having Brand Trust Index scores in the top decile of the industry, the top score within their respective benchmark segment, or a Brand Trust Index score within 20 points of the top benchmark segment score and above the industry average.

The following tables reflect regional peer benchmark Brand Trust scores among the 82 utilities surveyed. These scores reflect the amount of trust business customers have with each utility.

East Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
BGE 809
PSE&G 800
Con Edison 795
PECO 788
National Grid 755
PSEG Long Island 752
PPL Electric Utilities 747
Jersey Central Power & Light 746
Penelec 746
West Penn Power 739
Duquesne Light 734
Eversource 733
Appalachian Power 706


Midwest Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
DTE Energy 808
MidAmerican Energy 786
Ameren Missouri 776
Duke Energy Midwest 776
Ameren Illinois 774
We Energies 770
Consumers Energy 753
ComEd 752
Evergy 745
Xcel Energy – Midwest 745
Indiana Michigan Power 740
AES Ohio 736
Wisconsin Public Service 735
Alliant Energy 732
Ohio Edison 731
The Illuminating Company 727
AEP Ohio 726
OPPD 720
AES Indiana 718


South Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Florida Power & Light 790
OG&E 787
Georgia Power 779
Alabama Power 772
TECO Tampa Electric 771
Mississippi Power 770
El Paso Electric 768
Dominion Energy Virginia 762
Duke Energy Florida 759
Dominion Energy South Carolina 753
Public Service Company of Oklahoma 753
CPS Energy 752
Duke Energy Progress 750
Duke Energy Carolinas 748
Southwestern Electric Power Company 740
Kentucky Utilities 737
JEA 735
Gulf Power 732
Louisville Gas & Electric 724
Entergy 720


West Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Seattle City Light 825
Xcel Energy – West 816
Puget Sound Energy 814
Salt River Project 810
SMUD 795
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power 790
PNM 782
APS 773
Pacific Power 772
Idaho Power 759
NV Energy 758
Colorado Springs Utilities 751
NorthWestern Energy 750
SDG&E 748
Rocky Mountain Power 748
Southern California Edison 748
PG&E 742
Portland General Electric 719


 Natural Gas Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
TECO Peoples Gas 846
CenterPoint Energy – South 827
Virginia Natural Gas 791
Dominion Energy West 789
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest 784
Nicor Gas 775
Dominion Energy Ohio 773
Chattanooga Gas Company 770
Dominion Energy North Carolina 769

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business

Escalent conducted surveys among 17,876 business electric and natural gas utility customers of the 82 largest US utility companies (based on customer counts). The sample design uses a combination of quotas and weighting based on size of businesses surveyed to ensure a balanced sample of each evaluated utility. Utilities within each benchmark segment are assigned 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.

For more information on the full report, click below.

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