Revolutionizing the nation’s electricity grid is one of the biggest opportunities we have to save energy and increase efficiency, a fact the big players–including most utilities, a variety of big tech companies, and the U.S. government, which awarded $4.5 billion in stimulus funds towards building the smart-grid future–seem to be aware of. But consumers, largely, don’t know about smart grid technologies or smart-home energy management systems, says a new report by J.D. Power and Associates, which claims that this also represents a major opportunity for utility companies.
According to the forthcoming 2010 Electric Utility Residential Customer Satisfaction Study, less than one household out of every six surveyed said they were aware of actions taken by their utility to implement smart grid and smart meter technology. The report indicates that while overall awareness of utility actions to implement this kind of technology–and, one assumes, awareness of this sort of tech overall–remains low, it has increased slightly during the past year, from 12 percent in July and August 2009 to 16 percent in April and May 2010.
The report goes on to suggest that this lack of awareness on the part of most energy consumers represents a major opportunity for utility companies. Why? Because research indicates that customers who are aware of their utility’s smart grid and smart meter technologies are considerably more satisfied with their residential electric service than customers who are not. This is likely to be especially important to utility companies operating in areas where consumers have more than one option for electricity service, presenting an opportunity to build customer loyalty.
Jeff Conklin, senior director of the energy and utility practice at J.D. Power and Associates, also notes that customer rating and popularity is an important factor in municipal and regional rate case decisions. “As state governments and utility companies develop infrastructure and implementation strategies for smart grids and smart meters, it will be critically important for them to incorporate the voice of the customer in their plans,” said Conklin, in a statement. The full report will be available starting June 14th.