US energy consumers not aware of utility sustainability measures

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The majority of consumers in the US are not fully aware of the measures being implemented by their energy retailers to ensure environmental sustainability, a new study released by J.D Power has revealed.

Despite efforts being carried out by US utilities to reduce their carbon intensity including a bipartisan infrastructure proposal that calls for the single largest federal investment in clean energy and the launch of countless clean-air initiatives, only a few consumers are aware of the utility initiatives. Only 23% of the consumers surveyed highlighted that they are aware of climate action initiatives by their retailers.

However, the overall sustainability score for utilities in J.D Power’s index reached 27 out of 100 points, an increase by one point compared to the previous year. The index is based on consumer awareness, support, engagement and advocacy for their local utility’s climate initiatives.

Andrew Heath, senior director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power, said: “Consumer awareness and support for climate sustainability initiatives of local electric utilities remain low despite growing national attention on sustainability and the environment.

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“This is a big issue because utilities are developing a number of sophisticated sustainability strategies and, eventually, customers are going to be asked to fund these investments and modify their electric consumption. If they want customer support, utilities really need to act quickly to increase awareness for their sustainability initiatives.”

Other key findings of the 2021 index include:

  • The majority of consumers do not believe their retailers will meet sustainability targets: Only 46% of customers believe their utility is likely to achieve a goal of 100% clean energy by 2050.
  • Some utilities show significant improvement: While overall sustainability scores have not moved much, a handful of utilities achieved significant improvement from last year’s study. On a 100-point index scale, they are Alliant Energy (+4.6 points), Avangrid (+4.3), Salt River Project (+3.9), Evergy (+3.1), CMS Energy (+3.0) and Duquesne Light (+3.0).
  • Highest-scoring utilities: NextEra Energy and Sacramento Municipal Utility District have the highest scores in 2021, each with a score of 33.

The study was conducted between June 2020 and May 2021 amongst consumers served by the 35 largest US electric utility companies.