Surveys show the opportunity is ripe in 2013 for consumer outreach and education about the value and benefits a smart grid can bring. Throughout 2012, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative conducted a series of statistically valid surveys and in-depth interviews with consumers about their thoughts, feelings, values, attitudes and opinions of smart grid and its potential benefits.
“In summary, we’ve found that once consumers are educated about smart grid, they are supportive of it,” said SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand. “So the opportunity to further engage with our consumers only gets bigger. Armed with research, facts, figures, knowledge and a vision, industry can continue to educate its customers.”
Durand noted SGCC’s recent infographic quantifies some of the everyday benefits consumers could see from a fully realized smart grid.
Below are a summary of the primary insights about consumers, gleaned from SGCC’s research efforts this year:
- Many non-financial benefits of smart grid upgrades are as compelling to consumers as those that can save consumers money, according to second-wave findings of the SGCC Consumer Pulse Study. Survey 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 and reduced outages, among others. Critically, each benefit was found to be important to 80% or more of respondents.
- Consumers see some smart grid benefits that they consider to be worth paying more for – such as outage restoration after storms like Hurricane Sandy. Customers were most willing to pay for improved reliability and restoration, increased access to renewable energy, availability of better usage information and new pricing options and reduced environmental impacts, according to SGCC’s Consumer Voices report.
- More than half of consumers found time of use pricing and peak time rebates appealing. Those who indicated they were likely to participate cited both an interest in saving money and a more altruistic motive, such as helping the environment or helping to prevent an outage in their community, according to SGCC’s Consumer Voices report.
- The better they understand it, the more consumers support smart grid and smart meters. After being provided with introductory information about smart grid and smart meters, participants generally described their overall feelings toward the new technologies as favorable or very favorable, according to SGCC’s Consumer Voices report.
- Low income energy consumers are less aware of electricity grid modernization technology than the general population but they find its benefits compelling nonetheless, concluded the Spotlight on Low Income Consumers survey conducted by SGCC.
- Consumers are interested in various smart grid-enabled pricing programs and services and are increasingly likely to use social media to access energy information, according to SGCC’s Consumer Pulse Survey Wave 3. The survey results also indicated that consumer awareness of smart grid has remained relatively consistent during 2012, with 54% of Wave 3 respondents never having heard the term “smart grid.”