Have you heard the term smart grid? If you answered yes, you are among the 49 percent of American consumers who are at least a little bit familiar with the term. Now comes a bit harder question: Can you explain what the term means? If you said no, you are hardly alone. According to findings in the SGCC Consumer Pulse Study, conducted for the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) by Market Strategies International, more than 21 percent of Americans said they know the term, but don’t know much about what it means.
Here’s the CliffsNotes version. A smart grid is an electrical grid that takes into account information and behaviors of both suppliers and consumers and uses it to provide more efficient, reliable and sustainable electricity services. Smart meters are devices used in the home to measure the amount energy used in the home. Of course, one of the major benefits of both a smart grid and smart meters is cost saving for consumers.
But this new study found that when survey participants were asked to rate potential benefits of smart grids and smart meters it wasn’t just cost savings that popped up. Benefits like ease of connecting renewable energy sources to the electric grid, reduced outages, new cost-saving rate plans, fewer new power plant investments, increased quality of power delivery, availability of near real-time energy use information and more accurate billing, were found to be important to 80 percent or more of respondents.
“We found that the most commonly discussed benefits like cost saving and greater power reliability, while important, represent only a part of a broader spectrum of smart grid and smart meter benefits that are appealing to the average consumer,” SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand said in a statement. “To achieve greater impact upon a diverse customer base, utilities should take care to bring these other benefits into their marketing messages.”