A worker intalls solar panels on the roof of a...

A worker intalls solar panels on the roof of a North Massapequa home in 2018. Credit: Chris Ware

PSEG scored in the bottom third of a J.D. Power survey that ranks the nation’s top 35 electric utilities on customer awareness and support for green-energy programs, particularly those that require consumer participation.

PSEG’s score of 26 out of a possible 100 on the J.D. Power Sustainability Index comes despite strong science-backed goals by PSEG’s corporate parent, Public Service Enterprise Group, said Andrew Heath, senior director of utilities intelligence at J.D. Power.  PSEG tied for 26th with three other utilities of the 36 utilities whose customers were surveyed for the study.

Heath, in an interview with Newsday, said the relatively low score could signal a rocky road as PSEG implements grid-owner LIPA’s green-energy plans, such as a time-of-use rate program aimed at reducing peak-load energy demand. LIPA has said it plans to mandate the program for most residential customers by the end of 2024.

Heath said the problem isn’t that PSEG and LIPA lack a plan for a green-energy conversion of the Long Island electric grid. “They absolutely do” have a plan, he said. “But do they have the support of customers” to roll out that plan? Heath asked. “The answer is, compared to everyone else, no, it’s not as strong as it needs to be.”

Heath said PSEG “needs to communicate better, increase awareness of the plans they’ve got, and provide customers with clear guidance about what individual customers can do to be part of the plan and how they can help out.”

Elizabeth Flagler,  a PSEG spokeswoman, said, "Without paid access to the report we can’t comment on the findings," including "the criteria or the customer base used to determine the rank." Flagler pointed out that PSEG is "included in several prestigious national rankings, including the top-ranked utility in the 100 Best Corporate Citizens of 2022." 

PSEG’s score includes both the Long Island and New Jersey operations, J.D. Power said in a statement. Of the 1,800 interviews conducted of PSEG customers for the survey, around 800 were Long Islanders, Heath said. Few companies received high marks in the survey, with the top-ranked company, NextEra, receiving a 35.

Overall, the survey found “persistently low” customer awareness of plans and programs by utilities nationwide aimed at addressing climate goals. Meanwhile, J.D. Power said, use of the programs was “stubbornly low” by both residential and business customers: just 6% of residential and 28% of business customers. That despite the finding that most customers “care about climate change,” JD Power found.

PSEG/LIPA spend around $75 million a year in energy efficiency and “beneficial electrification” programs. Last year the energy savings amounted to some 311,959 megawatt hours, according to a LIPA report.

But some green-energy programs are seeing declines. Last year, for instance, rooftop solar installations were down slightly to 6,000 homes  and are down substantially from a high of  more than 11,000 in 2016. LIPA and the state eliminated most customer rebates for rooftop solar on Long Island several years ago, with the exception of solar-plus-battery programs.

J.D. Power said the survey sought to highlight the distinction between utilities’ public pronouncements about renewable energy ambitions and their effectiveness in communicating goals to customers in ways that increase green-power adoption.

“Right now, even the best-performing utilities are not where they need to be in terms of customer engagement, awareness and support for sustainability initiatives.” Heath said.

PSEG's scores on the Sustainability Index are unrelated to its scores on two customer-satisfaction surveys. As Newsday reported in May, PSEG Long Island’s residential customer satisfaction score of 677 out of a possible 1,000 points for 2021 left the company in second-to-last place among its peer group of 17 large eastern electric utilities in the national J.D. Power survey. On the business side, PSEG’s score of 737 put it in last place among its peer group of utilities and represented “a significant drop from the 2020 year-end score of 781,” Newsday reported. 

Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

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Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV Credit: Newsday

Summer tourism ... Shark sightings on LI . . . Dino-Mite Vintage . . . What's Up on Long Island . . . Get the latest news and more great videos at NewsdayTV

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