No company for which I have worked for over 20 years has chosen to use ETAP, so I can’t say anything about that program or its support staff. Several companies I have worked for in that time, including my present company, have used SKM. I am no expert in its use, but I know my way around it well enough to perform the customary analyses. I have always found the support staff to be, well, supportive. I know nothing about any “fading away.”
Since you operate as an independent engineering company, I infer that you are familiar with AutoCAD. If so, please allow me to interject a caution about SKM: The more you know about AutoCAD, the harder it will be to learn SKM. The two are completely backwards from each other. Everything that happens when you left click, or right click, or click-and-drag, or use any common key strokes will have a completely different effect in the two programs. Even the riser diagram is fundamentally different. In AutoCAD you build a riser from the electric room at the bottom floor, to the panels on the higher floors, going from the bottom of the sheet to the top of the sheet, with the position of any panel within the sheet conveying information regarding its location. You can’t do that in SKM, but rather must build the model from the top of the sheet downwards. It takes some getting used to, and you need to stop and think about how to use your mouse, each time you switch from one program to another.
All that said, I am a fan of SKM. Perhaps it is that I have used it often enough to get accustomed to the manner in which the mouse keyboard function with that program.
Best of luck.
Charles E. Beck, P.E., Seattle
Comments based on 2008 NEC unless otherwise noted.