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Progress scores well on consumer survey

If you lump together all of Progress Energy's utility users in Florida and the Carolinas, they seem to be happier customers than last year, according to a survey conducted by J.D. Power and Associates.

Progress Energy gained four points since last year's survey, moving to second place among residential electric utility companies in the southern United States. On a scale that ranks average customer satisfaction at 99, its score of 110 ranked behind only the 113 for Southern Co., which owns five utilities in the Southeast and is one of the nation's largest electricity producers. Progress Energy also ranked fourth among the 71 largest utilities surveyed nationwide.

The Raleigh, N.C., utility boasted of those results in a news release Thursday. It didn't mention that its new customers in Florida aren't as satisfied with their electrical service as the company's longtime ratepayers in the Carolinas.

Progress Energy's Carolina Power & Light gained seven points since last year and scored 114. But Florida Power, the St. Petersburg utility it took over in November, moved up only one point this year, scoring 106.

If it were ranked alone, Florida Power would tie for seventh place in the Southeast with Virginia Power and City Public Service of San Antonio but behind Tampa Electric Co. (sixth place) and Jacksonville Electric Authority (fourth place).

Still, Florida Power continues to improve. It scored below the industry average when the companies were first ranked in 1999 by J.D. Power and Associates, which is best-known for its surveys of customer satisfaction with automobiles.

Last year, Florida Power improved its score but still lagged behind CP&L, which scored 107.

_ J. Nealy-Brown can be reached at nealysptimes.com or at (727) 893-8846.

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