This is part of a series of articles highlighting OUC’s reputation as a trusted and reliable community partner. In 2020, utility customers nationwide ranked OUC the “2020 Most Trusted Brand” among electric utilities in an independent survey conducted by Cogent Syndicated Brand Trust Index.

What does it mean to be reliable? For Jeff Hayward, president and CEO of Heart of Florida United Way, it means “you will be there when I need you ― no questions asked.”

According to Hayward, “OUC ― The Reliable One is there every single time we call.” The Heart of Florida United Way is a partner on Project CARE, OUC’s community initiative that helps people pay their utility bills when life circumstances prevent them from doing so.

“The generosity of OUC this year was mind blowing. They stepped up with $2.1 million, which was an amazing leap from past years when they donated $300,000 to $400,000. It speaks volumes about how OUC cares about its customers,” he said.

In order to access the program, OUC customers call the Heart of Florida 211 line, a free call that connects them to a representative who can help direct them to various community resources during their time of need, including keeping their utilities on. Hayward explained that it’s not just about keeping the lights on, it’s about providing assurance that the person on the other end of the line will be taken care of.

“It’s about them being able to lay their head on their pillow at night with a sense of relief that their children are going to be OK; that their utilities are going to be paid and it’s one less thing for them to worry about.”

Hayward also offered praise for OUC employees’ generous donations to Project CARE. “They are good people who care about the community.”

Resiliency is the key to the successful relationship that Heart of Florida United Way and OUC share. Despite severe weather-related disasters or this year’s pandemic, Hayward believes this relationship will withstand any challenges and continue to thrive for years to come.

The Cogent Syndicated Brand Trust Index – the leading utility customer relationship and engagement study in the nation – is a composite score of a utility’s performance on customer focus, community support, communications effectiveness, reliable quality, environmental dedication and reputation. For 2020, Escalent conducted surveys among more than 70,400 residential electric, natural gas and combination utility customers. OUC earned this national recognition because of its unwavering commitment to all of these areas.

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