Maine’s two investor-owned utility companies ranked last in the new J.D. Power residential customer satisfaction survey, released Wednesday, prompting both Central Maine Power and Versant Power to push back on the findings.

The survey ranked CMP at the bottom among 17 large utilities surveyed in the eastern U.S., with a score of 607 out of 1,000. The best-performing large utility, PSE&G, got 767 points. Versant was last among 11 midsized Eastern companies with a score of 617. Top-ranked Delmarva Power received 751 points.

CMP and Versant also finished in last place in J.D. Power’s 2021 survey, and CMP ranked last this year in a survey of business customers.

Three years ago, Central Maine Power ranked last in a J.D. Power survey of business customers’ opinions of their utility companies, which uses data, artificial intelligence and algorithmic modeling to evaluate consumers’ behavior.

CMP is a subsidiary of Avangrid Networks, based in Orange, Connecticut, and part of Spanish energy company Iberdrola Group.

Notably, the other Avangrid electric subsidiaries also ranked below average in the J.D. Power surveys. In the large utility category, New York State Electric & Gas came in next to last, just above CMP. In the midsize segment, Rochester Gas & Electric and United Illuminating of Connecticut ranked two slots above Versant.


In releasing the data, J.D. Power said customer dissatisfaction reflects general discontent with rising electric bills, part of a national trend.

“Overall satisfaction is lower primarily because of a big drop in price satisfaction nationally,” said John Hazen, the company’s managing director of utility intelligence. “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 by as much as 72 points.”

Both CMP and Versant picked up on that theme Wednesday.

Both noted that they aren’t responsible for rising electric supply rates; they only transmit and deliver electricity. The state’s standard offer supply rates are approved by the Maine Public Utilities Commission following a competitive bidding process. In 2023, for instance, residential customers in CMP’s service area will see supply rates rise by 50%. Most of that supply will come from generator subsidiaries of New Brunswick Power and NextEra Energy.

Given the increasing burden of the cost of the supply of electricity across the country,” said Joe Purington, CMP’s president and chief executive, “it is no surprise that the J.D. Power rankings of the entire utility industry are down. We are living in challenging times and given the historic energy supply cost increases from out-of-state generation companies, we understand that customers are struggling, and those sentiments are reflected in these results.”

Versant issued a similar statement, reading in part:


“While Versant Power seriously considers results of national J.D. Power surveys, alongside other sources of customer feedback and engagement, we don’t have direct control of all electricity services measured. Rising electricity supply prices are causing hardships for families across the country this year, but Maine’s private utilities do not manage electricity generation or profit from these price increases.”

CMP also noted that for nearly three years, it has met or exceeded customer satisfaction standards set by the PUC, including bill accuracy and call waiting times. It said 99.8% of bills now are accurate and on time.

Both CMP and Versant are seeking increases in their delivery rates, citing rising costs of upgrading the distribution system, among other things.

The poor showing by Maine’s investor-owned utilities will give more ammunition to advocates of the campaign to acquire the assets of CMP and Versant and create a so-called consumer-owned electric distribution company. The Pine Tree Power campaign last month gathered enough signatures to put the issue before voters in November 2023.

The 2022 survey is based on responses from 102,879 online interviews conducted from January 2022 through November 2022 among residential customers of the 145 largest electric utility brands across the United States. They represent more than 105 million households, according to J.D. Power.

The survey examines satisfaction across six factors: Power quality and reliability; billing and payment; price; communications; corporate citizenship; and customer contact.

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