consumers

Consumers Ready for Clean Energy and New Utility Programs

'The energy sector is undergoing widespread change with far-reaching implications for providers and consumers alike'

U.S. consumers want cleaner energy sources, and many, particularly millennials, are willing to pay a premium to access renewable energy from their electricity providers, according to the “2018 State of the Consumer” report from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC).

This theme is one of six in the latest edition of SECC’s yearly report that synthesizes the prior year’s research into key takeaways on today’s energy consumers for electricity providers and other stakeholders. Through in-depth consumer research, SECC seeks to better understand energy consumers – their perceptions, attitudes and needs – and leverage this understanding to formulate actions that utilities and other service providers can take to better serve and engage their customers.

“The energy sector is undergoing widespread change with far-reaching implications for providers and consumers alike,” said Patty Durand, President & CEO, SECC. “Long considered a commodity-based business, utilities are now being called on to build and nurture relationships with their customers. Strategies for effective consumer engagement are increasingly viewed as a cornerstone for utilities and other energy service providers.”

The “2018 State of the Consumer” report underscores the need for utilities to treat the relationship with each customer as a journey that first starts with the basics and evolves over time as the customer’s energy-related understanding and needs change.

Another theme in the report is that programs emphasizing shifts in energy usage, such as peak-time rebates or peak-shifting programs, are appropriate for and appeal to a wide range of consumers. In fact, about 60 percent of consumers are either “probably” or “definitely interested” in participating in one. Moreover, millennials, now the largest generation of U.S. consumers, and renters, an increasingly important cohort of energy consumers, express particular interest in these kinds of programs.

The full report includes six themes on what today’s energy consumers want from their electricity provider; these are:

Theme 1: Don’t wait until they ask, start a conversation with your customers now 
Theme 2: Use an “all-of-the-above” channel strategy for education and outreach with your customers
Theme 3: Start with the basics: help your customers understand their bills and payment options to build customer engagement
Theme 4: When it comes to managing their energy usage, consumers want to be in the driver's seat
Theme 5: Customers want access to cleaner energy sources, and many, especially younger ones, are willing to pay a premium
Theme 6: Programs that encourage shifting energy usage could be a win-win for consumers and providers 

An executive summary of the “2018 State of the Consumer” report is available to the public at www.smartenergycc.org.

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