As more customers embrace renewable energy, up to 75% of U.S. utilities are set to offer a mass-market green power program by the end of 2003. Several utilities are achieving a response rate much higher than the usual 1%. In fact, some consumers are becoming so savvy they're asking their utilities for 'dark green' power. Dark green power comes from non-combustible renewable sources like the sun or wind.
By 2002, the percentage of U.S. utilities offering or in the planning stages of offering a green power program had risen to 46%, up from 30% a year earlier, according to Chartwell research presented in an all-new 58-page report, Renewable Energy for Residential Customers. In addition, in 2002, three out of 50 utilities (compared to zero in 2001) saw green power soar in status to become the most popular product among residential customers, according to Chartwell's database of utility products and services. One of those - Madison Gas & Electric (MGE) - had to turn away customers as all of its wind power had been subscribed within the first six months. The report includes an in-depth case study on MGE's planning, research and marketing efforts, and describes how the utility achieved a 4.1% participation rate.
There are several ways to overcome one of the biggest challenges - targeting customers for green power programs, according to the report, which includes data, analysis and eight in-depth case studies based on extensive interviews with utility leadership. Program leaders must stress accountability in all marketing efforts. Utilities should understand exactly what each marketing campaign costs and how many customers enroll as a result. Understanding marketing effectiveness makes it much easier to improve program effectiveness.