These rate increases are largely being driven by environmental, regulatory, and security requirements that have one thing in common: they have limited perceptible value to consumers. This situation risks invoking what one utility CEO aptly called “the Wrath of the Customer.” This refers to customers feeling that these rate increases are adding to their financial strain at the worst possible moment, without any clearly articulated value, creating a highly charged atmosphere where minor service issues become angry customer complaints. In response, utilities will need to work closely with regulators and policy makers to achieve constructive regulatory outcomes while building and leveraging their capabilities, offerings, tools, and resources to create new value for their customers.
The bad news for US consumers may be about to get even worse. In addition to falling home values, high gasoline prices, and persistently high unemployment, there is a growing need to increase electricity prices.