The U.S. electric industry faces an interesting challenge – more than three-quarters of Americans do not recognize or understand the industry's best available technologies to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy costs and curb global warming – the smart grid and smart meters.
Seventy-nine percent of Americans claim to know little or nothing about the smart grid, while 76 percent lack knowledge or understanding of smart meters, according to results of the latest Market Strategies International E2 (Energy + Environment) Study, a national survey designed to gain an understanding of American's attitudes and opinions about energy and energy-related issues.
However, the study also shows that Americans are supportive once the technologies have been explained to them.
- 75 percent feel implementing smart grid/smart meters should be a priority over the next one to five years
- 67 percent support their utilities implementing these technologies (when costs to consumers are estimated at $6-$10 per month). To underscore the support, the results vary only slightly at lower or higher monthly cost estimates.
"There are very clear benefits to these technologies," said Jack Lloyd, a vice president in the Energy Division at Market Strategies. "Still, the lack of knowledge of the smart grid and smart meters could hinder their implementation and delay the energy and environmental benefits they can provide," he said.
There remains room for education about both technologies. According to the survey:
- 34 percent see them as a means to provide detailed tracking of energy usage
- 7 percent see smart meters as a way to help consumers be more efficient users of electricity
- 2 percent see them as a way for utilities to overcharge customers.
"The evidence is clear. The electric industry must make smart grid and smart meter education a top priority if it hopes to implement the technologies successfully across the U.S.," said Lloyd.
This latest version represents the ninth wave of the long-term survey. For this most recent version, Market Strategies interviewed a national sample of 1,168 adults between Oct. 14 and Oct. 25,2010. Respondents were recruited via an online panel to reflect key demographic characteristics of the U.S. population. The data also were weighted by age, gender, race/ethnicity and census region to bring the sample into alignment with the U.S. Census.