The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) released Consumer Voices, a new study that brings to life the thoughts, actions and values that are driving consumer's adoption of smart grid technologies. Consumer Voices provides a unique look at the factors that underpin consumers' conscious choices as they relate to the smart grid, smart meters and associated products and services.
Through on-camera interviews, Consumer Voices provides an in-depth, qualitative understanding of the five smart grid Consumer Segments identified in SGCC's Wave 5 Consumer Pulse Research released earlier this year. These five Consumer Segments (Green Champions, Movers & Shakers, Savings Seekers, Technology Cautious, and Status Quo) group together like-minded consumers based on socio-economic characteristics as well as their relative thoughts and actions toward energy usage, the smart grid, smart meters and associated products and services.
"This new research brings the consumer to life by allowing stakeholders to see and hear from individuals in their own words what they think about energy, grid modernization, and technology," said Patty Durand, Executive Director of SGCC. "Consumer Voices equips the facts and figures that have long informed decisions throughout the utility industry with a voice, affording companies an opportunity better understand the customers they strive to serve."
Focusing on cities where utility companies have already converted their residential customers over to smart meters—allowing customers adequate time to become familiar with their meters and associated smart energy programs—SGCC conducted interviews in Oklahoma City, Okla., Irvine, Calif. and Bethesda, Md. Key findings indicate that while consumers expressed relatively low levels of awareness for, and knowledge about the smart grid-enabled technologies found throughout their communities, the majority of consumers expressed a favorability toward their benefits once fully explained.
Consumers expressed the strongest interest in the increased reliability that is associated with the smart grid, as well as the environmental benefits for their community, and the economic benefits that come with smarter energy management. These findings indicate that consumers are not opposed to the development of the smart grid or the adoption of associated technologies when they believe that said technologies will have a positive impact on their energy usage. While there is not a one-size-fits-all strategy to improve smart grid education, Consumer Voices highlights the importance of segmented engagement that enables strategic calls to action based on socio-economic, lifestyle and community attributes.