Smart grid – not just for saving money, consumers say


Patty Durand,
Executive Director,
Atlanta, GA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 25, 2012 – Many non-financial benefits of smart grid upgrades are as compelling as those that can save consumers money, according to the latest findings of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) ongoing consumer pulse study.

The Wave II survey, a follow-up to the initial study begun in August, was conducted with over one thousand participants across the U.S. Participants were asked to rate the importance of seven potential benefits of smart grid and smart meters, including ease of connecting renewable energy sources to the electric grid, reduced outages, new cost saving rate plans, fewer new power plant investments, increased quality of power delivery, availability of near real time energy use information and more accurate billing. Each benefit was found to be important to 80 percent or more of respondents.
“We found that the most commonly discussed benefits like cost saving and greater power reliability, while important, represent only a part of a broader spectrum of smart grid and smart meter benefits that are appealing to the average consumer,” said SGCC executive director Patty Durand. “To achieve greater impact upon a diverse customer base, utilities should take care to bring these other benefits into their marketing messages.”

Consumer education about smart grid remains vital, as awareness and understanding remains low, the survey found. 51 percent of consumers, a number unchanged since September 2011, said they have never heard the term smart grid, and another 21 percent said they have heard the term but don’t know much about what it means.

The majority of consumers who are familiar with smart grid concepts have positive feelings about it. The most persuasive messages were that smart grid projects will create tens of thousands of jobs and that many components of the electricity grid are decades old and wearing out.  However, the most persuasive negative messages were that people risk losing control of their energy usage and invasion of privacy.

The Smart Grid Favorability Index, which was developed as a single metric to track smart grid awareness and favorability, currently stands at 25, up one point – due to a slight increase in the favorability component – from the initial survey.