Utilities Step In To Help Local Business Communities, Escalent Names 24 Utilities as 2021 Trusted Business Partners

July 7, 2021

Businesses’ trust their utilities significantly more after utilities stepped in to support local economies and communities during the pandemic. About one in three (36%) businesses says its utility is a trusted adviser and partner in their success, and over half (52%) are aware of their utility’s efforts to support the local economy. This increased support pushed the utility business customer Brand Trust Index score higher by 29 points, reaching a historic high of 782 this year (on a 1,000-point scale). This information is from the Cogent Syndicated 2021 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business study by Escalent, a top human behavior and analytics advisory firm.

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, Business Community Support and Company Reputation have increased the most (each up 31 points) over the last year as businesses place more value on their utility’s local dedication. As a result, utility business customer advocacy has increased to an all-time high as well, with 94% of businesses saying they made a positive comment on behalf of their utility in the past year.

“Building brand equity as trusted advisers during the last year is huge for the utility industry. Only trusted brands have the ability to influence businesses to adopt innovative programs and support investments in new energy technology,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Escalent. “Building strong, trusted relationships with business customers also allows utilities to gain business community support and advocacy for their efforts. In fact, 78% of businesses say they would pay 10% more for their utility to advance its clean energy, innovative offerings and outreach objectives.”

Additional insights from the study include:

  • There is a significant 142-point gap between the most and least trusted utilities
  • Minority-owned businesses have a very high 816 Brand Trust Index score.
  • Fewer than half of businesses (42%) would support a rate increase to improve reliability, safety or service.
  • Key account managers increase customer trust, as the average Brand Trust score is 817 when businesses are assigned an account manager.
  • Two in three businesses (65%) are interested in solar and battery storage and 27% of those with high Brand Trust prefer their utility as the provider of these offerings.
  • Utilities should focus on small business customers, as larger businesses tend to have higher trust and use more consumption management and alternative energy offerings than smaller businesses.
  • Service interactions in newer digital channels like mobile, social, chat and text for business customers have increased 11 percentage points this year to 66%, as phone service interactions have increased only four percentage points to 54%, marking the first time businesses had more digital service than phone service with utilities.
  • Digital service scores 837 on the study’s Customer & Field Service Index while phone service posts scoring of 826.

Escalent congratulates the 2021 Most Trusted Business Partner utilities. These 24 utilities are industry leaders in developing trust among their business customers.

Cogent Syndicated 2021 Trusted Business Partner Utilities
AEP Ohio Florida Power & Light
BGE Georgia Power
CenterPoint Energy – South Nicor Gas
Chattanooga Gas Company NV Energy
Con Edison Public Service Company of Oklahoma
Consumers Energy Puget Sound Energy
Dominion Energy North Carolina Southern California Edison
Dominion Energy Virginia TECO Peoples Gas
DTE Energy TECO Tampa Electric
Duke Energy Florida Virginia Natural Gas
Duke Energy Progress We Energies
Entergy Xcel Energy – West

The following tables reflect regional peer benchmark Brand Trust scores among the 79 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
Con Edison 833
BGE 814
PPL Electric Utilities 789
PSE&G 788
National Grid 786
PECO 784
Jersey Central Power & Light 767
Appalachian Power 754
PSEG Long Island 746
West Penn Power 744
Penelec 731
Eversource 718
Midwest Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand trust score
We Energies 856
AEP Ohio 855
Consumers Energy 827
DTE Energy 822
Ameren Missouri 793
Indiana Michigan Power 782
Alliant Energy 781
Duke Energy Midwest 779
AES Ohio 774
MidAmerican Energy 772
Ameren Illinois 771
AES Indiana 771
Evergy 766
Wisconsin Public Service 763
OPPD 754
Xcel Energy – Midwest 752
Ohio Edison 751
ComEd 734
The Illuminating Company 719
South Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand trust score
Dominion Energy Virginia 815
Duke Energy Progress 815
Duke Energy Florida 802
Public Service Company of Oklahoma 801
Georgia Power 800
Entergy 799
Florida Power & Light 798
TECO Tampa Electric 797
Duke Energy Carolinas 791
Kentucky Utilities 790
CPS Energy 782
El Paso Electric 779
Southwestern Electric Power Company 774
Alabama Power 773
Mississippi Power 764
OG&E 763
Louisville Gas & Electric 762
Dominion Energy South Carolina 742
JEA 741
Gulf Power 714
West Region Electric Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand trust score
Xcel Energy – West 847
NV Energy 811
Puget Sound Energy 808
Southern California Edison 800
Los Angeles Department of Water & Power 794
Salt River Project 791
APS 787
SMUD 779
Idaho Power 779
PNM 776
PG&E 772
SDG&E 769
Portland General Electric 765
Pacific Power 761
Colorado Springs Utilities 757
NorthWestern Energy 744
Rocky Mountain Power 741


Natural Gas Utilities Brand Trust Business Performance
Utility brand name Brand trust score
TECO Peoples Gas 838
CenterPoint Energy – South 805
Dominion Energy North Carolina 803
Virginia Natural Gas 799
Nicor Gas 786
Chattanooga Gas Company 785
Dominion Energy Ohio 784
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest 778
Dominion Energy West 759


About Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement™: Business

Escalent conducted surveys among 15,669 business electric and natural gas utility customers of the 79 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.


Click below to learn more about the full report.

New call-to-action

Keep me informed. I’d like to receive occasional newsletters, event notifications, and thought leadership materials.

Subscribe to Our Newsletter