Survey: US consumer engagement with utility climate initiatives too low


US electric utility customers currently have very low levels of awareness for the climate sustainability initiatives of their local utilities, according to a new study released by J.D Power.

The J.D. Power 2020 Sustainability Index—Climate has revealed that:

  • Consumer awareness and engagement with utility climate initiatives very low 

The overall sustainability scores for electric utilities evaluated in the study, which are based on consumer awareness, support, engagement and advocacy for their local utility’s climate initiatives, range from a high of 32 to a low of 19 on a 100-point scale. 

  • New York City, Los Angeles and Portland are the cities with the most utilities and customers showing greater concern on climate change

Con Edison, Los Angeles Department of Water & Power and Portland General Electric have the highest levels of concern regarding climate change and sustainability initiatives.

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  • Climate change skeptics

Wyoming and Alabama have the largest percentages of climate change skeptics, with 15% and 11% of respondents, respectively, responding that “there is no climate change.”

  • Business consumers are more engaged in utility climate initiatives than residential customers
  • NextEra Energy and Sacramento Municipal Utility District have the highest scores in 2020 with a score of 32 (on a 100-point scale).

Andrew Heath, senior director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power, said: “Consumer awareness and support for the climate sustainability initiatives of their local electric utilities is low.

“Utilities need to address awareness if they hope to achieve the clean energy goals they’ve put in place for the next few decades. These efforts are going to cost money and will require support from rate payers and citizens. Without the support of their customers and other stakeholders, utilities may struggle to achieve their goals.”

The index is based on responses from more than 34,000 business and residential electric utility customers and was fielded from January through May 2020.

The index applies to the 35 largest US electric utility companies and cities, each serving 500,000 or more residential customers.

The full list of electric utility companies and cities that are evaluated, along with their index scores is available here.