15 Nov 2011

Consumers deserve a LOT more information about smart grid functions, benefits — new research; are Republicans opposed?

Written by Jim Pierobon

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.

Selected Implications:

  • 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. 

2 Comments to Consumers deserve a LOT more information about smart grid functions, benefits — new research; are Republicans opposed?

  1. RobertWilliams's GravatarRobertWilliams
    November 15, 2011 at 12:33 pm | Permalink


    Concepts and theory sounds great, but upon closer inspection:

    A. Utility bills are increasing where smart meters are installed, not decreasing.

    B. Customer information from smart meters is NOT formatted for customers and does NOT change customer behavior towards conservation.

    C. Increased utility rates may decrease energy usage, but that can be done with inexpensive time-of-use meters, NOT requiring expensive smart meters.

    D. The cost – benefit of smart meters is horrendous and is being promoted to profit the utility companies and their suppliers, not customers or our society or our environment.

    E. The Smart Grid does NOT use or require a smart meter on each home. The necessary smart information can be gathered much more efficiently and timely and inexpensively at energy distribution points. (The smart grid does not care how much power any one home uses.)

    F. The vast amount of unnecessary and nearly useless information to be handled and stored may actually end up raising energy usage.

    G. This massive Billions-of-dollars smart meter program will leave NO funds for programs that would truly bring energy saving solutions and the public will not be receptive to real solutions after being burned by these Smart meters.

  2. RobertWilliams's GravatarRobertWilliams
    November 15, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink

    1. Must-See 4-minute youtube video on Smart meters


    2. Skyrocketing Utility Bills after installation
    TV News Video (3 minutes)

    3. Systemic Smart Meter Billing Errors Over 200% Uncovered in Australia
    TV News Video (7 minutes)
    http://au.news.yahoo.com/today-tonight/money/article/-/10241945/power-scandal-exposed/ – video


    4. CIA Director James Woolsey calls Smart grid “Stupid” due to National Security problems caused by so-called smart meters.
    News Video (1 minute)


    5. RADIATION MEASURED FROM SMART METER MOUNTED ON A HOME (once active in the utility system) SHOWS RADIATION TRANSMISSION PULSES APPROXIMATELY ONCE EVERY FOUR SECONDS 24 HOURS PER DAY traveling through the bodies and brains of the inhabitants of that home. Youtube Video (6 minutes, 1st minute is sufficient)

    PG$E, California’s Utility Monopoly, recently admitted that each smart meter mounted on a home transmits radiation between 10,000 and 190,000 times each day.

    This admission corrected previous false statements repeated often by many utility companies across the country.

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