New research out this morning for the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative affirms what what is needed for utilities, and their vendors, need to accomplish for smart grid applications to grow more quickly: educate, educate and educate some more.
Here are the key findings, followed by selected top-line implications. The research, conducted by Market Strategies International August 15-September 6, 2011, consisted of land line and cell phone calls to 1,200 adults aligned with national population parameters. It has a +/- 3.2 percentage point error margin at a confidence level of 95%.
Selected Key Findings:
- Smart grid awareness remains low. 51% of consumers say they have never heard of the term “smart grid.”
- Most people have positive or neutral impressions of the smart grid.
- Among those aware of smart grid technologies, the most convincing reasons to implement smart grid/smart meters are saving money and improving energy efficiency.
- Many consumers wanted more information before forming an opinion.
- 68% supported the deployment of smart grid and smart meters.
- The most effective messages were about saving money, reliable power/timely restoration and avoiding energy waste.
- After hearing a description of a time-of-use pricing plan, 49% said they would likely participate.
- After hearing a description of a critical peak rebate program, 62% said they would likely participate.
- 67% said they would use smart meter usage information to manage and try to reduce their electricity costs.
- Interest is home energy devices is highest among those age 54 and older; younger consumers seem to prefer a growing number of website applications.
- Continued low awareness should be a cause of concern for industry professionals who see the value of smart grid applications
- Consumers find a wide range of positive claims about smart grid benefits to be persuasive and should go beyond just “saving money.”
- It will continue to be difficult to overcome inertia and habit to accelerate smart grid innovations to the broad public.
- Strong marketing and clever apps are needed drive widespread consumer engagement.
- With no single strong entity taking the lead to tell the smart grid story and no “crisis” to create urgency, building consumer understanding and support faces many hurdles.
And get this finding: Republicans’ relatively low interest and support may have the potential to turn into political opposition. What is THAT all about. It’s one thing to ignore a changing climate; it’s another altogether to turn against enabling technologies that can save money.
Patty Durand, Executive Director of the Collaborative, said in an interview with The Energy Fix the research points to the need by utilities to reach out to their customers, even if they have no other choice whom to receive their electricity from. “Consumers expect utilities to communicate with them more robustly.” She asserted information about smart grid applications should be offered “at every touch-point.”
How long before most utilities get THAT message?
Access the entire report here.
For what several of the more far-sighted utilities are doing vis a vis smart grid, apps, be sure to read the SGCC’s 2011 report on “Excellence on Consumer Engagement” here.