The 2016 State of the Consumer report reveals that there is still a gap between utilities and their customers. Over the five years that the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) has been monitoring the relationship between consumers and utilities, the landscape has changed a lot but some things have stayed much the same. Some of the changes, such as an increasing openness to using technology to manage energy bills and incorporate renewables into the grid, could be used to strengthen the relationship.
Roughly half of all US utility consumers are not familiar with terms such as ‘smart grid’ or ‘smart meters’, a quarter of them are familiar with the terms but don’t know what they mean – these statistics remain largely unchanged since the first survey five years ago. When asked whether their utility’s services had improved, more gave a positive answer than a negative one – that’s a sign that smart grid technologies are benefiting users, even if they are not aware of it.
SGCC’s research has shown a significant increase in the number of customers who see the smart grid as important for reducing greenhouse gases and increasing the share of renewable energy on the grid. Another big change is the consumer interest in adopting new technology – ‘I am always eager to be the first to buy new products or technologies’ climbed from 19% in 2011 to 31% in 2015.
The research also showed a significant increase over the last five years in customers who are aware of what the smart grid is but view it unfavourably.
For more information on what American consumers think about the smart grid, see full article.