Texas residential electric customers who have a choice in their retail electric provider are more satisfied than customers in areas of the state where customers do not have a choice in their electricity provider, J.D. Power's 2013 Texas Residential Retail Electric Provider Customer Satisfaction Study confirms.
J.D. Power's 2013 study confirms once again that, "Price is the primary reason that satisfaction is higher among customers who use a Texas retail electric provider than among those who use a regulated utility."
J.D. Power reported that overall satisfaction among customers of residential retail electric providers (REPs) in areas of Texas with choice is 682 (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of 4 points from 2012. This is the highest score since the study was first published in 2008.
Customer satisfaction with price, a primary driver of satisfaction in the study, increased 20 points from 2012, to 684.
Texas competitive retail electric providers -- those in areas where customers can switch to different electric companies based on their price and satisfaction -- outperform regulated utilities in Texas by 114 points in the price factor (684 vs. 570, respectively).
"Deregulation of the residential electric market in Texas opened the doors to healthy price competition and also focused residential customers on finding the cost savings and service programs that match their needs," said Chris Oberle, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power.
While most of Texas provides customers with a choice in their electricity provider, many parts of the state do not, including San Antonio (CPS Energy), Austin (Austin Energy), and outlying parts of the Houston area served by Entergy. In these areas, as well as at El Paso Electric, SWEPCO, SPS (Xcel) and at most of the state's electric cooperatives, customers have to buy their power from the local monopoly utility.
This means there's no competition to bring customers the lowest electric rate. Moreover, these local monopoly utilities don't have to answer to customer complaints or criticisms the same way that a competitive retail electric provider must, because the competitive retail electric provider absolutely must keep the customer happy, or face the prospect of losing the customer to one of dozens of competitors offering better service or lower rates.
While Texans are increasingly satisfied with their choice of electricity options, and are enjoying lower electric rates, it's important to remember that to receive the most benefits from competition, you have to shop around for the best deal. Many customers in Texas are paying too much for electricity because they have not shopped for a low electric rate in the last year, or even longer. That means they're not taking full advantage of the savings from today's competitive pricing and low rates, which are lifting satisfaction among retail electric providers.