Oracle has announced the results of the “Turning Information into Power” research report, which surveyed 604 U.S. consumers and 200 U.S. utility managers. The report examined the U.S. public's energy consumption habits, perception of utilities' ability to provide useful information and demand for new technologies. It also examined utilities' opinions on and preparation for the emergence of renewable energy and the move to the smart grid.

The key findings showed that Americans are concerned about energy costs and show interest in new energy options:

  • 94% are concerned with the energy costs of their primary residence

  • 95% are interested in receiving detailed information on their energy use

  • 76% are interested in renewable energy technologies for their home

  • 72% of those respondents state that “reducing personal energy costs” is the most important benefit of renewable energy.

However, Americans' interest is not yet translating to action and utilities can improve communication with customers. When asked if they would pay an upfront fee to view a detailed real-time energy-consumption report, just 20% of Americans said yes. Only 6% of respondents have installed some type of renewable energy source in the last 12 months. When asked to give their utility suppliers a grade on their “current ability to provide detailed useful information on energy consumption,” only 14% of Americans gave their utility an “A.” When grading themselves on the same question, only 16% of utility managers gave their organizations an “A.”

While more than half (58%) of electricity and multi-service utilities surveyed currently offer net metering programs — which allow homeowners to generate their own renewable energy or sell it back to their utilities — just 11% of these utilities say their customers are actively pursuing the programs.

Utilities believe the smart grid is critical to meeting impending energy needs and are taking first steps. The report states that 91% of utility managers believe it is critical that the U.S. adopts smart grid technologies. They selected “improving power flow management” and “supplying customers with the tools to monitor and reduce energy use at home” as the top two benefits. So far, 41% of utilities have assessed the opportunity for smart grid technologies and 16% have begun implementation. Utility managers believe “upfront consumer expenses” (42%) and a “lack of consistent industry technology standards” (30%) will be the biggest roadblocks to maximizing benefits of the smart grid.

“The ‘Turning Information into Power’ report indicates that while utilities are starting to make the move toward the smart grid, there is a significant opportunity to maximize results by focusing on consumer education, awareness and communication. Americans want more information that will help them to make smarter decisions about their energy consumption,” said Guerry Waters, vice president, industry strategy, Oracle Utilities.

“As the industry engages in the smart grid dialog to promote use of renewable resources and modernize the electric grid, utilities can streamline this process and optimize success by developing detailed transition plans, securing buy-in from stakeholders, as well as evaluating and implementing integrated, standards-based technology. Oracle's comprehensive suite of solutions for the utilities industry is available today to support and guide utilities through their evolution to deliver next-generation services to their customers,” said Quentin Grady, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities.