Trusted Business Partners Have Elevated Their Relationships With Business Customers

July 20, 2023

Escalent Recognizes 15 Utilities as 2023 Trusted Business Partners

Utilities that have reacted more quickly to economic headwinds by increasing communication to their business customers are transforming their customer relationships, with increased brand equity leading to significantly higher customer engagement. Today, we name these 15 top utilities as the 2023 Trusted Business Partners.

New data from Cogent Syndicated show that, after seeing double-digit declines from early 2021 to the first half of 2022, Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study index scores have stabilized. Although significantly lower than their pinnacle in the first half of 2021, all industry core indices are still well above levels last seen before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2023 Trusted Business Partners saw Brand Trust score advances in the first half of 2021 and declines in the first half of 2022 that were similar to industry changes; however, these utilities have rebounded from those 2022 drops with significant gains across Brand Trust factors, while industry scores have essentially flatlined. Additionally, the Brand Trust gap continues to widen, with Trusted Business Partners scoring 46 points higher than the industry average.

Those are some of the latest findings of the 2023 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study, which tracks the performance of 81 gas, electric and combination utilities to identify brand and customer experience opportunities and trends in the industry. The report is published semiannually by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm with extensive energy, utility and brand experience.

Pre-COVID-19, the 2023 Trusted Business Partners were communicating more effectively and more often than the industry average, and that gap has also widened. The Communications Intensity Index, Cogent’s proxy for utility communication spend, was 20% higher than the industry average for 2023 Trusted Business Partners in the first half of 2020; it’s now 30% higher.

“The 2023 Trusted Business Partners have accomplished one of the essential goals of high-engagement utilities: They have established themselves as strategic partners, helping businesses explore options for savings, sustainability efforts and environmental goals, as well as proving themselves to be active, valuable members of the local business community,” said Suzanne Haggerty, director of syndicated research with the Energy team at Escalent.

When utilities began pulling back on communication spend in the second half of 2021, Trusted Business Partners didn’t pull back as much, and they reversed course sooner than the industry as a whole, amping up communication in the second half of 2022 as inflation-fueled spending constraints began taking their toll on residential and business customers alike.

“Trusted Business Partners have proven the value of frequent communication and a visible presence in the local economy,” Haggerty added. “Their business customers report higher awareness of their utility’s local economic development activities, and the same customers are more likely to consider them a partner and a trusted energy advisor.”

Escalent is pleased to name these 15 utilities as our 2023 Trusted Business Partners.

Cogent Syndicated 2023 Trusted Business Partners*
Alliant Energy MidAmerican Energy
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest National Grid
Con Edison Puget Sound Energy
Consumers Energy Seattle City Light
Dominion Energy Ohio We Energies
Duke Energy Midwest Xcel Energy – Midwest
Florida Power & Light Xcel Energy Colorado
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power

*Utilities named as Trusted Business Partners were 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 81 utilities surveyed. These scores reflect the amount of trust business customers have with each utility.

East Region Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Con Edison 846
National Grid 823
PECO Energy 789
PSE&G 784
Duquesne Light 777
BGE 776
Jersey Central Power & Light 772
PPL Electric Utilities 767
PSEG Long Island 752
Penelec 748
West Penn Power 736
Eversource Energy 706
Appalachian Power 683


Midwest Region Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Duke Energy Midwest 795
We Energies 790
MidAmerican Energy 780
Consumers Energy 779
Alliant Energy 777
Xcel Energy – Midwest 777
OPPD 773
Ameren Illinois 771
AEP Ohio 770
The Illuminating Company 768
ComEd 756
Ohio Edison 751
AES Indiana 750
DTE Energy 747
Ameren Missouri 745
AES Ohio 743
Wisconsin Public Service 742
Evergy 730
Indiana Michigan Power 717


South Region Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Florida Power & Light 823
Georgia Power 796
TECO Tampa Electric 796
Mississippi Power 796
Duke Energy Carolinas 791
Kentucky Utilities 783
Public Service Company of Oklahoma 778
Dominion Energy South Carolina 771
Duke Energy Florida 767
Dominion Energy Virginia 766
Duke Energy Progress 766
El Paso Electric 760
CPS Energy 756
OG&E 751
Alabama Power 742
Entergy 730
Southwestern Electric Power Company 730
Louisville Gas & Electric 714
JEA 709
FPL Northwest FL 692


West Region Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
Seattle City Light 852
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power 842
Xcel Energy Colorado 811
Puget Sound Energy 804
Salt River Project 793
APS 792
Rocky Mountain Power 777
Pacific Power 771
SMUD 768
NV Energy 765
Southern California Edison 763
Portland General Electric 758
PNM 755
PG&E 754
NorthWestern Energy 722
Idaho Power 721
Colorado Springs Utilities 716
SDG&E 652


Natural Gas Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Brand Trust score
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest 810
Dominion Energy Ohio 797
CenterPoint Energy – South 785
Dominion Energy West 773
Chattanooga Gas Company 773
Dominion Energy North Carolina 755
Nicor Gas 746
Virginia Natural Gas 739

About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business

Escalent conducted surveys among 16,061 business electric and natural gas utility customers of the 81 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 the button below.



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