Americans Satisfied with Local Electric Providers’ Restoration of Power After Storms

    NEW YORK , N.Y. – October 17, 2011 – It’s something so many of us take for granted until it goes out: our electricity. The switch gets flipped, the lights go on and everything is good. With the trend of bad weather around the country this year, utilities are on the front line as tornadoes, hurricanes, and ice storms hit people who may have not prepared to be in the dark for a few days. In fact, when asked if they lost electricity in the past 30 days because of a storm or a weather emergency, one-quarter (24%) of Americans said they had.

    Despite recent events, overall people are pretty happy with their electric providers. Over three-quarters of Americans (77%) agree that their local electric provider efficiently restores power after a storm or other weather occurrence and three in five (59%) agree that after a storm, the order in which residential and business power is restored is done in a fair way for all customers.

    These are some of the results of The Harris Poll of 2,462 adults surveyed online between September 12 and 19, 2011.

    There is a high level of satisfaction as well as three quarters of U.S. adults (73%) say they are satisfied with their local electric provider’s restoration of power after a storm or emergency. Breaking this down by region, over three-quarters of those in the South (78%) and Midwest (77%) are satisfied with restoration, followed by seven in ten (69%) of those in the West. Probably based on the recent hurricane, the East is the least satisfied-almost two-thirds say they are satisfied (64%) while one in five (19%) Easterners are not satisfied.

    One area where electric providers might be able to do a little better is with communication. Two in five Americans (39%) say their local electric provider does not communicate information regularly during or after a storm so they know about restoration of power while two in five disagree with that statement (40%).

    Besides taking care of power restoration after storms, there are other aspects of being a good electric provider. Over half of Americans agree that their local electric provider has systems that are easy to use and you can reach the department needed quickly (56%) and that they do a good job of letting the community know about specific energy issues such as supply and distribution (53%). There are two areas where utilities may be doing very well, but their customers just don’t know. Almost half (47%) say they are not at all sure if their utility company contributes to the community through philanthropy and community causes and over half (51%) are not at all sure if their local utility provider uses social media and interactive systems online to communicate effectively.

    Storm preparations

    Americans are divided on whether they are prepared for storms. Just over two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they have an emergency supply kit while 57% say they do not. For those who have a kit, almost everyone has a flashlight (96%) and a first aid kit (92%) while just under four in five have candle or lamps (79%), canned or packaged food that can be prepared without cooking or refrigeration (79%), matches (79%) and several days’ supply of drinking water (77%). Seven in ten Americans who have an emergency kit have a portable radio with fresh batteries (70%) while over half have several days’ supply of medicine (59%) and cash (54%).

    But looking at other emergency preparations, Americans are not as prepared. Just one-third (34%) have checked outside their home for trees or shrubs that need to be trimmed or appeared weak and only one in five have reviewed their evacuation plan (20%). Smaller numbers have reviewed their insurance policy (17%), put copies of important paperwork in an emergency supply kit (17%) or planned to move someone who relies on life support equipment to a facility outside the storm’s path (5%). Half of Americans (51%), however, have done none of these items.

    So What?

    Weather woes will continue and Americans need to prepare themselves. The hurricane season is winding down, but that leads to the blizzard and ice storm season. All of these types of storms, among other unforeseen emergencies, bring the potential for losing power. Utilities are mostly seen in a positive light for their handling of getting the lights turned back on quickly. Granted, while the lights are out there may be a lot of grumbling because of the inconvenience, but the satisfaction seems high once there is some distance from the event.

     

    TABLE 1

    SATISFIED WITH RESTORATION OF ELECTRICITY

    Overall, how satisfied are you with your local electric provider’s restoration of your electricity after a storm or an emergency?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Satisfied (NET)

    73

    64

    77

    78

    69

    Very satisfied

    30

    28

    30

    31

    29

    Satisfied

    43

    37

    47

    47

    40

    Not satisfied (NET)

    13

    19

    15

    11

    9

    Not that satisfied

    9

    13

    9

    8

    7

    Not at all satisfied

    4

    6

    5

    2

    3

    NA – I do not remember ever losing electricity

    14

    17

    9

    11

    21

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2A

    STATEMENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC PROVIDERS

    How strongly so you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: All adults

     

    Agree (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    Disagree (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    My local electric provider efficiently restores power after a storm or other weather occurrence.

    77

    41

    36

    10

    6

    4

    13

    After a storm, the order in which residential and business power is restored is done in a fair way for all customers.

    59

    27

    31

    11

    7

    4

    30

    My local electric provider does not communicate information regularly during or after a storm so I know about restoration of power in the community.

    39

    13

    25

    40

    23

    17

    22

    My local electric provider is left out of the local, state and federal emergency management teams.

    12

    2

    9

    30

    16

    15

    58

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 2B

    STATEMENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC PROVIDERS

    How strongly so you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Summary of those saying strongly agree or somewhat agree

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    My local electric provider efficiently restores power after a storm or other weather occurrence.

    77

    76

    80

    78

    73

    After a storm, the order in which residential and business power is restored is done in a fair way for all customers.

    59

    59

    60

    62

    53

    My local electric provider does not communicate information regularly during or after a storm so I know about restoration of power in the community.

    39

    37

    43

    39

    34

    My local electric provider is left out of the local, state and federal emergency management teams.

    12

    14

    12

    12

    9

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 3

    EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT

    Do you have an emergency supply kit?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    Echo Boomers (18-34)

    Gen X (35-46)

    Baby Boomers (47-65)

    Matures (66+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes

    43

    37

    46

    45

    45

    No

    57

    63

    54

    55

    55

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 4

    CONTENTS OF EMERGENCY SUPPLY KIT

    Which of the following are in your emergency supply kit?

    Base: All adults who have an emergency supply kit

     

    Total

    Generation

    Echo Boomers (18-34)

    Gen X (35-46)

    Baby Boomers (47-65)

    Matures (66+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Flashlight

    96

    87

    98

    98

    100

    First aid kit

    92

    89

    92

    92

    94

    Candle or lamps

    79

    59

    84

    85

    91

    Canned or packaged food that can be prepared without cooking or refrigeration

    79

    62

    77

    88

    90

    Matches

    79

    62

    81

    87

    84

    Several days’ supply of drinking water

    77

    62

    70

    87

    90

    Portable radio with fresh batteries

    70

    56

    68

    74

    83

    Several days’ supply of medicine

    59

    44

    49

    64

    84

    Cash

    54

    42

    44

    61

    74

    Non-cordless landline phone

    43

    29

    39

    47

    60

    Something else

    29

    20

    29

    34

    34

    None of these

     

     

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 5

    PREPARATION FOR AN ELECTRIC OUTAGE

    Have you done any of the following to prepare for an electric outage due to a storm or other emergency?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Generation

    Echo Boomers (18-34)

    Gen X (35-46)

    Baby Boomers (47-65)

    Matures (66+)

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Checked outside my home for trees or shrubs that need to be trimmed or appear weak

    34

    25

    32

    37

    44

    Reviewed my evacuation plan and decided where I will stay if I need to leave my home, including pets since many shelters don’t accept animals

    20

    17

    19

    21

    25

    Reviewed my insurance policy

    17

    14

    21

    17

    19

    Put copies of important paperwork in an emergency supply kit

    17

    13

    16

    18

    20

    Planned to move someone who relies on electric powered life support equipment to a facility outside the storm’s projected path

    5

    8

    4

    5

    3

    None of these

    51

    57

    53

    50

    43

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6A

    STATEMENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC PROVIDERS

    Thinking of your local electric provider, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Base: All adults

     

    Agree (NET)

    Strongly agree

    Somewhat agree

    Disagree (NET)

    Somewhat disagree

    Strongly disagree

    Not at all sure

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Their systems are easy to use and I can reach the department I need quickly.

    56

    20

    37

    19

    13

    7

    24

    They do a good job of letting the community know about specific energy issues such as power supply and distribution.

    53

    18

    36

    20

    13

    7

    26

    They contribute to the community through philanthropy and community causes.

    39

    13

    27

    13

    8

    5

    47

    They use social media and interactive systems on-line to communicate effectively.

    31

    10

    21

    18

    10

    8

    51

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 6B

    STATEMENTS ABOUT ELECTRIC PROVIDERS

    Thinking of your local electric provider, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements?

    Summary of those saying strongly agree or somewhat agree

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Their systems are easy to use and I can reach the department I need quickly.

    56

    59

    57

    58

    51

    They do a good job of letting the community know about specific energy issues such as power supply and distribution.

    53

    58

    52

    53

    52

    They contribute to the community through philanthropy and community causes.

    39

    34

    40

    44

    38

    They use social media and interactive systems on-line to communicate effectively.

    31

    34

    28

    31

    32

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    TABLE 7

    LOST POWER IN LAST MONTH

    In the past 30 days, have you lost electricity because of a storm or other weather emergency?

    Base: All adults

     

    Total

    Region

    Satisfied with restoration after storm

    East

    Midwest

    South

    West

    Satisfied

    Not satisfied

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    %

    Yes

    24

    44

    17

    23

    14

    24

    43

    No

    76

    56

    83

    77

    86

    76

    57

    Note: Percentages may not add up to 100% due to rounding

     

    Methodology

    This Harris Poll was conducted online within the United States between September 12 and 19, 2011 among 2,462 adults (aged 18 and over). Figures for age, sex, race/ethnicity, education, region and household income were weighted where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the population. Propensity score weighting was also used to adjust for respondents’ propensity to be online.

    All sample surveys and polls, whether or not they use probability sampling, are subject to multiple sources of error which are most often not possible to quantify or estimate, including sampling error, coverage error, error associated with nonresponse, error associated with question wording and response options, and post-survey weighting and adjustments. Therefore, Harris Interactive avoids the words margin of error as they are misleading. All that can be calculated are different possible sampling errors with different probabilities for pure, unweighted, random samples with 100% response rates. These are only theoretical because no published polls come close to this ideal.

    Respondents for this survey were selected from among those who have agreed to participate in Harris Interactive surveys. The data have been weighted to reflect the composition of the adult population. Because the sample is based on those who agreed to participate in the Harris Interactive panel, no estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated.

    These statements conform to the principles of disclosure of the National Council on Public Polls.

    The results of this Harris Poll may not be used in advertising, marketing or promotion without the prior written permission of Harris Interactive.

    J40805

    Q975, 980, 985, 987, 990, 995, 998

    The Harris Poll® #109, October 17, 2011

    By Regina A. Corso, SVP, Harris Poll, Public Relations and Youth Research