Utilities Investing More in Communication Continue to See Elevated Brand Trust

July 13, 2023

Escalent Recognizes 42 Utilities as 2023 Most Trusted Brands

Utilities that have maintained or increased what they spent on communication throughout the pandemic and ongoing economic difficulties are seeing higher levels of Brand Trust, according to a new Cogent Syndicated report from Escalent. For the second consecutive year, the utility industry Brand Trust Index is down significantly, declining 11 points to 687 on a scale from 0 to 1,000. However, Brand Trust among utilities that have continued to highlight savings opportunities, environmental programs, and community support efforts across a variety of channels is 5% higher than the industry average. Today, we name these 42 top utilities as the 2023 Most Trusted Brands.

Those are some of the latest findings of the 2023 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential study, which tracks the performance of 141 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.

As inflation and higher utility bills set in throughout 2022, many customers who found their economic situation worsening were unable to identify utility programs or services to help manage their energy use. Declining value and monthly bill manageability perceptions continue to outpace bill increases, indicating that general economic anxiety and pressures may continue to color residential Brand Trust as customers look to blunt the effects of inflation. The leading decline in Brand Trust is in the perception that utilities offer reasonable rates for the service provided, Cogent’s proxy for value. That attribute score has declined by 4% since mid-2022.

Customers enrolled in energy-management programs give their utility an 11% higher Brand Trust score. By developing and promoting a portfolio of products and services focused on energy management and savings—and successfully driving customers to those programs—utilities can serve as helpful consultative partners rather than simple service providers. This transformed relationship can help increase scores across indices and may help preclude dramatic Brand Trust declines during periods of rate instability.

While the Trusted Brands are not immune to the scoring declines that began in the first quarter of 2021, their declines have been less substantial. Their overall Brand Trust score is higher than it was pre-COVID-19, while the industry average has dropped below those levels. Additionally, the Brand Trust gap continues to widen, with Trusted Brands scoring 32 points higher than the industry average.

Trusted Brands are also delivering easy-to-understand bills and helpful on-bill communication: Trusted Brand bill understandability scores are 4% higher than the industry average, as are customer perceptions that the bill provides information on ways to lower consumption.

“Even though inflation and 2022’s substantial rate hikes have slowed, customers are still dealing with higher prices for everyday goods and services, and they’re turning to their bills and other utility communication for help in managing their energy spending,” said Suzanne Haggerty, director of syndicated research with the Energy team at Escalent. “While utilities have increased their communication spend after decreasing it in 2022, Trusted Brands are still reaching out to customers more frequently and across more channels.”

Escalent is pleased to name these 42 utilities as our 2023 Most Trusted Brands.

Cogent Syndicated 2023 Most Trusted Utility Brands*
AEP Ohio Idaho Power
Ameren Illinois Indiana Michigan Power
Atmos Energy – Midwest Intermountain Gas Company
Atmos Energy – South Montana-Dakota Utilities
BGE New Jersey Natural Gas
Black Hills Energy – Midwest NW Natural
Cascade Natural Gas OPPD
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest OUC
Chattanooga Gas Company PECO
Citizens Energy Peoples Gas
Columbia Gas – South Pepco
Columbia Gas of Ohio Philadelphia Gas Works
ComEd Piedmont Natural Gas
Delmarva Power Puget Sound Energy
Dominion Energy – West Salt River Project
Dominion Energy South Carolina SMUD
DTE Energy SoCalGas
Elizabethtown Gas Southwest Gas
Florida City Gas Company TECO Peoples Gas
Georgia Power Washington Gas
Green Mountain Power Xcel Energy – Midwest

*Utilities named as Most Trusted Brands 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 141 utilities surveyed. These scores reflect the amount of trust customers have with their respective utility.

East Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand Trust score
PECO Combination 731
BGE Combination 730
Delmarva Power Combination 721
PSE&G Combination 710
Con Edison Combination 708
National Grid Combination 682
NYSEG Combination 644
Eversource Combination 630
RG&E Combination 607
Pepco Electric 699
Green Mountain Power Electric 695
Penelec Electric 685
PPL Electric Utilities Electric 685
Penn Power Electric 680
Duquesne Light Company Electric 679
Met-Ed Electric 671
West Penn Power Electric 668
Mon Power Electric 666
Atlantic City Electric Electric 665
Potomac Edison Electric 663
Jersey Central Power & Light Electric 642
Appalachian Power Electric 641
PSEG Long Island Electric 638
Central Maine Power Electric 550
New Jersey Natural Gas Natural gas 728
Washington Gas Natural gas 727
Elizabethtown Gas Natural gas 721
Philadelphia Gas Works Natural gas 710
South Jersey Gas Company Natural gas 703
Columbia Gas – East Natural gas 700
Peoples Natural gas 687
UGI Utilities Natural gas 680
National Fuel Gas Natural gas 675


Midwest Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand Trust score
Montana-Dakota Utilities Combination 738
Black Hills Energy – Midwest Combination 724
Xcel Energy – Midwest Combination 723
DTE Energy Combination 723
Ameren Illinois Combination 720
Wisconsin Public Service Combination 716
NIPSCO Combination 712
Consumers Energy Combination 710
Alliant Energy Combination 707
MidAmerican Energy Combination 701
Duke Energy Midwest Combination 689
We Energies Combination 686
CenterPoint Energy – Indiana Combination 514
Indiana Michigan Power Electric 704
OPPD Electric 696
ComEd Electric 690
AEP Ohio Electric 690
Ameren Missouri Electric 683
Ohio Edison Electric 675
The Illuminating Company Electric 673
Toledo Edison Electric 673
Evergy Electric 660
AES Indiana Electric 621
AES Ohio Electric 621
Columbia Gas of Ohio Natural gas 725
Peoples Gas Natural gas 717
Atmos Energy – Midwest Natural gas 715
Citizens Energy Natural gas 713
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest Natural gas 707
Dominion Energy Ohio Natural gas 697
Spire Missouri – West Natural gas 696
Kansas Gas Service Natural gas 685
Spire Missouri – East Natural gas 682
Nicor Gas Natural gas 675


South Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand Trust score
Dominion Energy South Carolina Combination 697
Louisville Gas & Electric Combination 666
CPS Energy Combination 659
MLGW Combination 632
OUC Electric 747
Georgia Power Electric 740
Mississippi Power Electric 725
TECO Tampa Electric Electric 721
Nashville Electric Service Electric 718
Entergy Arkansas Electric 717
Alabama Power Electric 716
Florida Power & Light Electric 715
Duke Energy Carolinas Electric 714
Entergy Mississippi Electric 701
Duke Energy Florida Electric 697
Duke Energy Progress Electric 696
Public Service Company of Oklahoma Electric 696
Southwestern Electric Power Company Electric 684
Dominion Energy Virginia Electric 683
Entergy Texas Electric 682
Xcel Energy – South Electric 673
Kentucky Utilities Electric 669
El Paso Electric Electric 667
JEA Electric 656
Austin Energy Electric 655
OG&E Electric 653
Entergy Louisiana Electric 632
Kentucky Power Electric 620
FPL Northwest FL Electric 561
Entergy New Orleans Electric 513
Florida City Gas Company Natural gas 763
TECO Peoples Gas Natural gas 756
Piedmont Natural Gas Natural gas 740
Columbia Gas – South Natural gas 737
Chattanooga Gas Company Natural gas 737
Atmos Energy – South Natural gas 735
CenterPoint Energy – South Natural gas 727
Spire Alabama Natural gas 727
Virginia Natural Gas Natural gas 709
Texas Gas Service Natural gas 705
Oklahoma Natural Gas Natural gas 704
Spire Gulf Coast Natural gas 691
Dominion Energy North Carolina Natural gas 689
Spire Mississippi Natural gas 654


West Region Utilities Brand Trust Performance
Utility brand name Service provided Brand Trust score
Puget Sound Energy Combination 737
Avista Combination 699
NorthWestern Energy Combination 680
Black Hills Energy – West Combination 668
Colorado Springs Utilities Combination 655
Xcel Energy Colorado Combination 643
PG&E Combination 605
SDG&E Combination 556
Salt River Project Electric 740
Idaho Power Electric 735
SMUD Electric 731
Seattle City Light Electric 719
NV Energy Electric 707
Portland General Electric Electric 704
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power Electric 684
Tucson Electric Power Electric 683
Pacific Power Electric 681
APS Electric 676
Southern California Edison Electric 671
Rocky Mountain Power Electric 652
PNM Electric 648
NW Natural Natural gas 717
Cascade Natural Gas Natural gas 716
Intermountain Gas Company Natural gas 710
SoCalGas Natural gas 709
Southwest Gas Natural gas 708
Dominion Energy – West Natural gas 706
New Mexico Gas Company Natural gas 686

 About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Residential

Escalent conducted surveys among 72,581 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers of the 141 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.

For more information on the full report, click the button below.


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