Business

Duke Energy utilities lag in customer survey

A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police car diverts traffic off Carmel Road as a tree blocks it, and downs power lines, after a 2013 thunderstorm passed through the area.
A Charlotte-Mecklenburg police car diverts traffic off Carmel Road as a tree blocks it, and downs power lines, after a 2013 thunderstorm passed through the area. dtfoster@charlotteobserver.com

Three Duke Energy utilities rank among the bottom four large electric utilities in the South according to a survey of residential customers by market research firm J.D. Power.

Duke Energy Carolinas, which serves Charlotte, ranked 10th among 13 large utilities in the category. Duke Energy Progress, serving the eastern Carolinas, placed 11th and Duke Energy Florida last.

All three utilities lagged the category average of 682 on a 1,000-point scale.

“We’ll take the results, the good and the bad, and learn how we can serve our customers better,” said Duke spokeswoman Paige Layne.

Layne noted that Duke’s utilities scored double-digit point increases from last year’s survey. “We think we’re moving in the right direction,” she said.

Oklahoma Gas & Electric ranked first in the South for a third straight year, followed by Alabama Power and Georgia Power.

Nationwide, residential customers expressed more satisfaction with their utilities for a third straight year, J.D. Power said.

The annual rankings assess power quality and reliability; price; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; communications; and customer service.

“Utility companies are doing a better job at the fundamentals—minimizing service interruptions, communicating with customers and improving customer service,” J.D. Power official John Hazen said in a release.

Duke recognized it needs to improve communications about outages, Layne said. Its website now includes a tool that lets customers report outages with a few clicks.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender

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