U.S. consumers ready for smart grid engagement



San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — January 29, 2013

Most consumers like smart technology and would be willing to participate in energy saving programs but they need more education, according to the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative’s (SGCC) 2013 State of the Consumer Report.

Further, the enabling technologies are in place, with about two-thirds of U.S. households currently having both a high speed internet connection and a wireless network, and social media are growing in importance for consumers.

The report is aimed to summarize what the SGCC knows about the smart grid from the consumers’ point of view based on several research studies involving more than 4,000 U.S. residential consumers.

Among the findings are that segmentation matters – consumers are not homogeneous in their attitudes, opinions or behaviors, and they all need more education. Further, awareness lags – about 75 percent of consumers either have never heard the term smart grid or don’t know what it means.

Nevertheless the benefits outweigh concerns – when consumers are provided with information about the benefits and key concerns of smart grid, the positive statements are more persuasive and resonate better. Program interest is quite strong – consumers express strong interest in smart grid-enabled programs and services. And it’s not just about saving money – multiple smart grid benefits resonate with various segments and types of consumers.

Finally low income consumers require special focus – while similar to the general population in terms of general smart grid awareness, low income consumers are different many ways, including communication preferences.

“The key to engaging consumers in smart grid is understanding how to appeal to them in terms that will resonate – how to answer their objections and make it easy for them to interact with new technology,” said SGCC executive director Patty Durand.

Based on the findings, the report offers a core set of principles that utilities can adopt for customer engagement:
1. Educate customers before deployment
2. Anticipate and answer questions before customers ask them
3. Facilitate community engagement programs
4. Communicate how to shift usage to off-peak demand hours
5. Develop user friendly web portals and applications
6. Offer smart thermostats and smart grid-enabled device offerings
7. Spotlight believable customer testimonials.