Customers who choose their electricity provider are more satisfied than ever – both in Texas and the Northeast, a new survey from J.D. Power confirms.

Despite a harsh winter, which pushed up retail electric rates, "satisfaction with retail electric providers has improved dramatically from 2013," J.D. Power said. J.D. Power's survey examined electricity suppliers' pricing, communications, corporate citizenship, enrollment/renewal and customer service. An additional factor, billing and payment, was measured in Texas.

Overall satisfaction with retail electric providers (REPs) in Texas is 706 (on a 1,000-point scale), an increase of 24 points from 682 in 2013, J.D. Power said.

Satisfaction across eight Northeast states is 626, an improvement of 20 points from 606 in 2013.

Texas's 706 satisfaction score ranks highest overall in electricity provider satisfaction, with Pennsylvania (650) ranking highest among the Northeast states.

"One opportunity for retail electric providers to grow their customer base is by convincing consumers to switch from their local electric utility," said Jeff Conklin, senior director of the energy practice at J.D. Power. "Nearly two-thirds of customers avoid switching because they don't perceive the savings as being big enough to take the time to switch, or they are not sure how to go about switching. Retail electric providers need to help customers overcome these obstacles with better communication about the process and benefits of switching."

J.D. Power reported reasons that customers avoid switching to a retail electric provider include:

  • The perception that bill savings are not big enough to switch (37%);
  • They are satisfied with the level of service they presently get from their local utility (27%);
  • They didn't know how to switch (24%); and
  • They are concerned about getting worse service if they were to switch (22%).

Overall, 21 percent of customers plan to switch from their local electric distribution company in the next 3 months. More than one-fourth (27%) say they "definitely will" or "probably will" consider switching if they knew they would save up to $20 a month.

Notably, in Illinois and Ohio, satisfaction among customers who have been switched from their local electric utility to an electric supplier via municipal aggregation (where the local government picks the customer's electric supplier instead of customers shopping for themselves) is substantially lower versus satisfaction among customers who have chosen an electricity supplier on their own (619 vs. 647, respectively), J.D. Power said.