- Scottish and Southern Energy Ranks Highest in Customer Satisfaction Among Gas and Electricity Suppliers

Scottish and Southern Energy ranks highest in satisfying both gas and electric utility customers, according to the J.D. Power and Associates 2007 UK Electricity and Gas Supplier Customer Satisfaction Study released today. However, failure to communicate changes in pricing tariffs with consumers impacts customer satisfaction.

In the past year, the average annual domestic gas bill has decreased by 9 per cent-from GBP510.60 in 2006 to GBP466.44 in 2007-while electricity bills for the same period have increased by 19 per cent-from GBP453.24 in 2006 to GBP540.84 in 2007.

"Our research shows that communications around the many changes to price tariffs has strongly impacted levels of customer satisfaction," said Caspar Tearle, director of service industries research at J.D. Power and Associates. "However, the study finds that suppliers who inform their customers of any planned annual service fee adjustments all at once, rather than incrementally throughout the year, fare better in customer satisfaction, even if these service fees are increasing. Customers are more comfortable with this type of communication, as they believe they are better able to acclimatise and have a clearer view of their monthly household budgets."

The study also shows that companies should inform their customers well in advance of any fee adjustments, rather than leaving customers to hear of changes through the media (approximately 44 percent of gas customers and 30 percent of electricity customers report that they heard about pricing changes via the media) or by word of mouth.

"Utility bills are cutting deeper into consumers' pockets and account for a larger proportion of monthly household budgets," said Tearle. "Gas and electricity suppliers could, therefore, increase customer satisfaction levels by giving customers information on how to reduce their monthly bills. However, fewer than one-third (28 per cent) of customers say they have received information from their gas supplier on how to do this, and this rate is even lower among electricity customers-26 per cent."

Many customers take advantage of various discount programmes offered by their utility supplier in order to reduce their utility bills. Some key findings include:

- Nearly one in four (22 per cent) gas and electricity customers say they are interested in fixed-price contracts, and 7 per cent of gas customers and 5 per cent of electricity customers say they already have a contract that guarantees no price increases.

- Almost two-thirds of gas customers (59 per cent) receive a discount for taking both gas and electricity from their supplier, which is up from 47 per cent in 2006.

- More than one-half (58 per cent) of gas customers and 55 per cent of electricity customers receive a discount for paying by direct debit.

- Less than one-fifth (18 per cent) of gas customers and 17 per cent of electricity customers say they receive a discount for paying their utility bills promptly.

- Approximately 5 per cent of gas users and 6 per cent of electricity users receive a discount for submitting their own meter reading.

Gas Supplier Performance

Scottish and Southern Energy ranks highest among gas suppliers for a second consecutive year with an index score of 662 on a 1,000-point scale. Scottish and Southern Energy performs particularly well in the areas of supply quality and reliability, price and value, image, billing and payment and customer service. Experiencing the largest improvement among suppliers examined in the study, EDF follows in the segment rankings, earning a score of 646 points and performing particularly well in billing and price and value.

Electricity Supplier Performance

Scottish and Southern Energy ranks highest among electricity suppliers with an index score of 628, performing well in power quality and reliability, price and value, image, billing and payment and customer service. EDF Energy (606) and Powergen (606) tie to follow Scottish and Southern Energy in the electricity supplier ranking.

The 2007 UK Electricity and Gas Customer Satisfaction Study is based on 2,649 online interviews with domestic electricity customers and 2,655 online interviews with domestic gas customers throughout the UK.

About J.D. Power and Associates

Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is an ISO 9001-registered global marketing information services firm operating in key business sectors including market research, forecasting, performance improvement, training and customer satisfaction. The firm's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car reviews and ratings (http://www.jdpower.com/auto/browse.aspx), car insurance (http://www.jdpower.com/autos/ratings/autos-insurance), health insurance (http://www.jdpower.com/healthcare/), cell phone ratings (http://www.jdpower.com/telecom/ratings/wireless/index.asp), and more, please visit http://www.JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies

Founded in 1888, The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE: MHP) is a leading global information services provider meeting worldwide needs in the financial services, education and business information markets through leading brands such as Standard & Poor's, McGraw-Hill Education, BusinessWeek and J.D. Power and Associates. The Corporation has more than 280 offices in 40 countries. Sales in 2006 were US$6.3 billion. Additional information is available at http://www.mcgraw-hill.com.

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and Associates. http://www.jdpower.com

Rankings Electricity Suppliers (based on a 1,000 scale) Scottish and Southern Energy (628) EDF Energy (606) Powergen (606) Industry Average (605) British Gas (603) ScottishPower (594) npower (589) Gas Suppliers (based on a 1,000 scale) Scottish and Southern Energy (662) EDF Energy (646) Powergen (627) Industry Average (627) ScottishPower (625) British Gas (622) npower (598)

Contact: Michelle Curley, Tel: +44(0)20-7331-5389, michelle_curley@uk.cohnwolfe.com

Michelle Curley, Tel: +44(0)20-7331-5389, michelle_curley@uk.cohnwolfe.com