Consumer Cents for Smart Grid

EcoPinion Consumer Survey Points to More Consumer Engagement Enabled by Smart Grid 87 percent of Americans would like utilities to suggest ways for consumers to reduce their bills
Washington, DC
May 23 2011

EcoAlign, a strategic marketing agency in the energy sector, released the findings today of a consumer survey examining consumer perceptions and attitudes in regard to smart grid. One thousand Americans nationwide responded to the survey conducted in April 2011. EcoAlign conducted the survey in conjunction with Clasma as an input into Connectivity Week 2011.

"American awareness of smart grid remains low," stated Jamie Wimberly, CEO of EcoAlign. "Yet, consumers like the concept of smart grid and believe smart grid will benefit them personally. Moreover, consumers seem much more receptive to and would welcome higher levels of engagement with their electricity suppliers. They are looking specifically for help to manage their bills, but more broadly are looking for alternatives to traditional service, offerings and customer service options, especially around bill pay and energy management."

The top line findings from EcoPinion No. 12 include:

  • Customer awareness has barely budged over the past year, with 35 percent of Americans being aware of the phrase “smart grid” in 2011 compared to 31 percent in 2010.
  • When asked how appealing the ability to review their personal energy consumption data was along with new options enabled by smart grid, 56 percent of Americans found this prospect to be “extremely appealing” or “very appealing.” Another 33 percent found it to be “appealing.”
  • 56 percent of Americans believe smart grid will either “greatly improve” or “improve” the customer experience and customer service.
  • Consumers in 2011 were extremely concerned or very concerned about the potential for rising utility bills – 78 percent in 2011 as compared to 74 percent in 2010.
  • In terms of attitudes towards their personal energy consumption, the most frequently chosen statement was “I am most concerned with saving money on my utility bill” (43 percent).
  • Among those who would like to receive suggestions from their utility company in terms of how to reduce their bill, they felt that in the short term “smart grid” would be most likely to help improve their utility’s service by providing better billing and energy consumption information (34 percent) and more energy management options (30 percent).
  • Eight out of ten Americans thought it would be extremely or very valuable to find out how the “smart grid” would impact their bill, new pricing options that would give them the opportunity to save money, and what the “smart grid” would cost.
  • While one fourth of consumers would allow the utility to control their high-use appliances automatically, another quarter would like notifications so they can make the adjustments themselves. An additional one third expressed willingness if the price paid was sufficient, while only 16 percent said they would never allow this.
  • Email (chosen by 54 percent of respondents) and mail (51 percent) are the preferred methods of communication with their utility and energy supplier.
  • When consumers were asked to use one word to describe their biggest concern relative to smart grid, they indicated their top concerns included “privacy,” “control/loss of control,” “security,” and even fear of “big brother.” Moreover, when asked who should have access to their detailed energy consumption data, 65 percent of Americans responded “only the customer.”
  • Almost half of all Americans (49 percent) believe that smart grid will be a net positive on health and another 44 percent believe that any health impact of smart grid will be balanced.

"Smart grid is expected to be both transformative and disruptive," stated Anto Budiardjo, President and CEO of Clasma Events. "While the emphasis to date has been on deployment and realizing benefits on the utility side of the meter, the transformation – namely, leveraging real-time energy consumption data – will only be successful if utilities and energy suppliers embrace engagement in all its facets with consumers. For this reason, we have a strong emphasis on residential, commercial and industrial energy consumers at this year’s ConnectivityWeek."

EcoAlign is making the survey report available to the public at no charge on our website: www.ecoalign.com

EcoAlign is the energy and environment marketing agency and a wholly-owned affiliate of DEFG LLC. We develop and execute marketing strategies for utilities, renewable energy providers and vendors operating in the energy and environment space. We are uniquely suited to help companies achieve their business objectives, from reaching efficiency program targets and improving customer satisfaction, to launching new products, increasing market share and repositioning for growth in the clean tech space.

Clasma Events, Inc. is a global event company specializing in strategic conferences at the center of the worldwide energy discussion. With a finger on the pulse of leading industry technologies and trends, Clasma provides a stage for collaboration and cooperation amongst industry thought leaders at the forefront of the smart energy movement. Focusing on smart grid, connectivity, and the new energy economy, Clasma’s major events include ConnectivityWeek, GridWeek, and Grid-Interop. More information on Clasma is available at www.clasma.com.

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