As the quantity and availability of smart grid/smart meter news and information continues to increase, a new national energy study says there is good and bad news when it comes to consumer awareness and support of the technologies.

"The good news is that a large majority of Americans—after we give them basic information about smart grid and smart meters—say it's a priority issue and strongly support the implementation of these technologies by utilities," said Jack Lloyd, vice president in the Energy division at Market Strategies International. "The bad news is that 72 percent of consumers overall admit they know little about the technologies. Less than a quarter of respondents say they fully understand the concept."

These findings are from the first wave of the 2011 E2 (Energy + Environment) Study. Conducted by Market Strategies twice a year, the national survey is designed to gain an understanding of Americans' attitudes and opinions about energy and energy-related issues.

Lloyd added that the level of Americans' smart grid/meter awareness hasn't increased noticeably during the past several years, despite the steady flow of information appearing in media and other outlets. Although general awareness still lags, the ready endorsement so many consumers give smart grid/meter—once it's explained—speaks volumes about the viability and strong appeal of the technologies and their associated benefits, he said.

"It's important to note that four of the five consumer segments in the energy market support the idea of utilities working quickly toward implementing smart grid/meter technologies," Lloyd said.

Defined by their consistent set of beliefs and preferences and designated by their energy usage orientation (the groups range from "Anything Clean" to "Carbon is King"), Lloyd commented that the nearly unanimous support for smart grid/meter coming from most of the market's various segments bodes well for future success of the new technologies.

"These findings point to a clear, high-potential opportunity for electric utilities and providers of related energy products and services. With the right smart grid/meter consumer education and initiatives, companies can provide useful information, significantly enhance their reputation and brand and connect with a large pool of interested, prospective customers," said Lloyd.

The latest version represents the tenth wave of this on-going study. A total of 989 interviews were completed May 19 through June 2, 2011 with consumers nationwide. Respondents were recruited via an online panel to reflect key characteristics of the U.S. population. The data were weighted by age, gender, and census region to match the demographics of the U.S. population. Due to its opt-in nature, an online panel does not yield a random probability sample of the target population. As such, it is not possible to compute a margin of error or to statistically quantify the accuracy of projections.