Customers Want New Services, But Don’t Necessarily Want to Pay for Them

While a survey of Michigan’s Grand Haven Board of Light & Power customers revealed support for local generation and renewable energy, a majority of those customers were not inclined to pay a higher price for their energy to support local generation or renewables. The utility worked with Hometown Connections and GreatBlue Research to conduct the survey.

The management team at GHBLP values hearing directly from customers. The goals of the customer satisfaction survey conducted in the fall of 2016 were to understand how the utility is performing, to identify areas that need improvement, and to discover what new services are of interest.

Hometown Connections & GreatBlue Research deliver actionable customer intelligence. The firms combine Hometown’s deep knowledge of public power utility management best practices with the research design, analysis, and reporting expertise of GreatBlue Research.

“We conducted our last customer survey in 2003 but plan to perform more frequent surveys going forward,” said Renee Molyneux, GHBLP’s Administrative Services Manager.

According to Molyneux, for the 2016 survey GHBLP wanted to learn how strongly their customers feel about accessing a local generator as opposed to buying into a larger project outside of the utility’s service territory. GHBLP also wanted to measure their customers’ interest in renewable energy and how much more they might be willing to pay for these energy products.

“When we asked our customers if they feel local generation is important, 78.8% of residential customers and 74.7% of commercial customers said it is important for GHBLP to generate their power supply locally,” Molyneux reported. “However, when we asked if they would be willing to pay a higher cost for local generation, a majority of both customer segments reported they are not willing to support this effort by paying a higher price for their energy. We received a very similar response when we asked about renewable energy. They want it, but the majority is not willing to pay more for it.”

Molyneux noted, “We have worked with Hometown Connections on several consulting projects in the past and like the partnership they have created with GreatBlue Research. The GreatBlue team was very professional and responsive to our needs.”