Consumer research firm J.D. Power has ranked Central Maine Power Co. last in customer satisfaction nationwide for the fourth year in a row.
The Michigan-based firm released the results of its annual report, the 2022 Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Survey, last month.
In it, the company ranked 76 electric utilities due to “power quality and reliability; price; billing and payment; corporate citizenship; customer contact; and communications,” according to a statement announcing the results.
CMP, Maine’s largest electric utility company, received a score of 527, placing it last on J.D. Power’s list. The next lowest-ranked utility was PSEG Long Island, which scored 710. Even Pacific Gas & Electric, the California utility company that achieved national infamy in the 2000 film “Erin Brockovich,” was higher on the list than CMP, with a score of 716.
At the top of the list was Salt River Project, a community-based nonprofit utility based in Tempe, Ariz., with a score of 828.
In its statement announcing the results, J.D. Power indicated scores for utilities overall were down this year due to “a combination of rising rates, inadequate communication and lack of visibility on corporate citizenship initiative.”
“Businesses are facing a tough economic environment right now as they confront the effects of inflation, talent scarcity and continued supply chain challenges," said Adrian Chung, director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power. "Blanket increases in their electric utility bills — without clear corresponding communications and adequate support from their utility on how to manage these costs — are simply adding to an already difficult situation for many businesses.”
Chung noted to Spectrum News that CMP's ranking "has been consistently poor for a number of years now," and that the trends impacting all utilities nationwide are hurting CMP in particular.
"In CMP's case, poor results from previous years has made it even more difficult to improve in the current environment, which sees most utilities being significantly impacted by heightening rates," he said.
CMP did not respond to a request for comment.
CMP has been drawing fire in recent years, both for its handling of a controversial power corridor in northern Maine and allegations of unfair rate hikes statewide
Our Power, a coalition focused on making electricity in Maine a public-owned utility, created a petition to replace CMP and Versant Power with a consumer-owned company. On Nov. 30, the Maine Secretary of State’s office announced the petition had acquired enough signatures to make it onto the November 2023 ballot as a referendum question.
Selecca Bulgar-Medina, director of the Maine Small Business Coalition, a statewide group that represents business owners and serves as a member of Our Power, said the survey reflects difficulties small businesses have when dealing with CMP.
“For many small business owners, the electricity bill is one of the largest line items in their budget, and can mean the difference between being able to grow their business or shut their doors,” she said. “CMP takes advantage of being the only game in town and their abysmal rankings again show they will always put their foreign shareholder profits first, and their hard-working customers last.”