Image: NRG Energy

Customers want independence and control to choose their energy source, a new survey of large electricity users in the US has found.

The survey on The State of Distributed Energy Resources from energy provider NRG Energy and Smart Energy Decisions found that customers are increasingly expressing interest in taking control of decisions regarding how and where they get their power. However, they do not expect to spend capital to get it.

Moreover, with distributed resource choices plentiful and the technologies that enable them complex, customers often require expert guidance on the most cost-effective option for their onsite power needs.

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The survey results indicated 87% of respondents citing cost savings as a top driver for deploying distributed resources and 46% as the top driver.

Onsite solar is the top resource being both currently deployed and under consideration, followed by electric vehicles. Almost two-thirds also are considering energy storage, although only a quarter recorded it as currently deployed.

Almost two-thirds also report that less than one-third of their load is offset by distributed energy, indicating significant opportunities for further savings.

The survey also indicated that while about half currently own and operate their own distributed energy resources, there is a shift away from this traditional model towards partnering with outside suppliers such as distributed resource product and service providers, utilities and ESCOs.

Benefits considered of such partners include technical and market expertise, cost savings and customised support with a vested interest in success.

Some other findings were that distributed energy resources are seen as a way to mitigate the effects of power outages as a back-up power source, and that they can be an effective means to achieve renewable and sustainability goals.

The study was based on interviews with more than 100 large electric power users in the US on their energy plans and how distributed resources fit into their overall strategy.