EPB remains the highest-rated mid-sized utility in the South for customer service and reliability, according to a new report by J.D. Power, the leading consumer and marketing research organization for rating businesses.
For the seventh consecutive year, J.D. Power rated Chattanooga's municipal electric and telecommunications provider as the best utility among midsize providers in the South. Georgia Power was again rated as the best large utility for overall customer satisfaction, according to J.D. Power.
"In addition to leading as the winner in the South among midsize utilities for overall customer satisfaction for seven straight years, EPB ranked highest across four study factors including power quality and reliability and price factors," John Hazen, a senior consultant for product management and development for the energy practice at J.D. Power, said in an announcement of the new ratings. "This is quite the achievement that reflects the commitment of multiple departments and employees that work together to make this long-time distinction possible."
EPB President David Wade said in a statement that the independent rating, which is based upon consumer surveys and feedback, "reflects the ownership all of our employees take to provide services reliably, efficiently and courteously at the best possible value."
Customer ratings for utilities this year by J.D. Power were lower than in the past, due largely to concerns about double-digit rate increases over the past year.
The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects that higher fuel costs and a slightly colder forecast for the winter will boost residential energy bills this winter by 28% for natural gas, 27% for heating oil, 10% for electricity and 5% for propane.
EPB electricity rates this month are up 8.4% from a year ago, but that is below the national average increase.
"Overall satisfaction is lower primarily because of a big drop in price satisfaction nationally," Hazen said. "Utilities need to be sensitive to the financial challenges that some customers are experiencing. Increasing communications regarding assistance programs that may be available, along with energy efficiency programs, can increase overall satisfaction."
EPB spokeswoman Sophie Moore said EPB continues to offer programs free of charge to residential customers to help improve home efficiency and help lower monthly energy costs, including:
Levelized Billing – Levelized Billing calculates monthly bills on a rolling average of customer power usage over the past 12 months. This means bills won't fluctuate dramatically month to month and customers can more effectively budget knowing approximately how much their electricity bill will cost.
30 Minutes with a Pro – EPB Energy ProsSM will address residential customer questions or concerns via phone on topics from HVACs to solar, and anything in between.
EPB Home Energy Checkups – EPB Energy Pros perform thorough in-home analysis and provide detailed reports on ways to save on home energy bills.
DIY Home Energy Assessments – Residential customers can use an online evaluation at epb.com where they can input information about their homes and receive a personalized report with energy efficiency recommendations.
Home Uplift – EPB Energy Pros and TVA EnergyRight® work with neighbors in need to provide substantial home energy upgrades at no charge to reduce their energy bills and improve the air quality.
Customers may find out more about the energy assistance programs by calling EPB at 423-648-1372.