Residential electric customers in parts of Texas open to competition in the electric industry, which allows customers to choose a lower rate from competing energy suppliers, are more satisfied with their electric service than customers in parts of Texas closed to competition, according to a survey by J.D. Power and Associates.

"Customers in Texas who are able to choose their electric provider are increasingly more satisfied with their provider than are those who do not have a choice," J.D. Power found.

J.D. Power found that overall satisfaction among residential customers served by retail electric providers in parts of Texas open to choice was 678, on a 1,000-point scale.

This is the highest level of satisfaction since the study was first published in 2008.

Moreover, this is the first time satisfaction among customers with a choice of electric providers exceeds both the Texas and U.S. national averages for all factors measured in the study.

Among Texas customers who do not have a choice in their electric provider, and must buy their power from the monopoly utility, satisfaction is only 646.

In regions open to electric choice, satisfaction among customers in the Dallas/Fort Worth area is 677, compared to 681 in the Houston area, with a state average of 678.

Regarding specific metrics, J.D. Power said that satisfaction with Texas retail electric providers' customer service has increased 45 points to 744.  Contributing to the significant increase in customer service satisfaction are improvements in call center performance (+47 points) and online customer service (+38).

Satisfaction with Texas retail electric providers in areas open to choice has increased in three other factors as well: price (+20 points); communications (+19); and billing and payment (+16).

"Many electric retailers in Texas are considering how to better serve their customers when they are contacted," said Andrew Heath, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "The large improvements show that electric retailers are putting practices in place that improve satisfaction, which helps retain customers."