Smart Meters Get Chilly Consumer Reception

Smart meters, the devices that have been touted for their ability to make homeowners the kings and queens of their energy fiefdoms, have instead been greeted a costly addition. That’s the finding of Pike Research’s recent Smart Grid Consumer Survey. Pike said it polled 1,000 adults across the United States and found that customers are, in fact, “less than enthusiastic about smart meters than the utilities had originally anticipated.”

In some ways, this isn’t a shocking conclusion. Despite organizations like the Environmental Defense Fund expressing support for the safety of smart grid tech, a vocal contingent remains skeptical and often hostile to smart meters. The issue grew so contentious in California that the Public Utilities Commission recently said Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) customers can say no to smart meters (although it will cost them).

smart meter

image via Shutterstock

At the same time, vendors are finding it hard to provide business models for home energy management and smart meter devices. The combination has left many wondering what that ultimately means for the device.

Despite the controversy about alleged health effects from smart meters, in the Pike suvey the most popular reason for an unfavorable opinion toward smart meters was cost. Nearly 60 percent of respondents had concerns that the devices would lead to an increase in electricity bills. Nevertheless, nearly half (47 percent) of consumers said they would be extremely or very interested in home energy management products and services that would allow them to monitor and control their energy usage in their home. A total of 45 percent of those polled said that they would be interested in connect smart appliances that would help them manage their electricity consumption more efficiently.

“While consumers are less enthused about smart meters and demand response programs, our survey found that home energy management and smart appliances enjoy relatively strong levels of interest,” Vice President Bob Gohn of Pike Research said in a statement. “As consumers became more familiar with smart meters, their favorable attitudes also increased, indicating that the utilities still have a public education challenge ahead of them.”

Kristy Hessman is a writer and native Oregonian who currently resides in California. Before starting her own company, she worked as a reporter covering business and politics for daily newspapers and The Associated Press.

    • Xtrvvcd

      I Don’t Understand Why Consumers Don’t Like Smart Meters.

      Smart meters result in HIGHER UTILITY BILLS for the same amount of electricity and gas.

      Smart meters violate personal PRIVACY and every activity in our homes can be seen and known by others that we don’t know.

      Our CELLS and DNA get damaged and our BLOOD-BRAIN BARRIER gets breaches (holes) put into it from the non-ionizing radiation from smart meters.

      NEW LEGITIMATE ENERGY INNOVATIONS GET BLOCKED by the existing Monopolistic utility companies that use the smart meters to increase their restrictive powers to prevent others from contributing.

      What’s the problem?

      • Jeffhre

        I don’t understand why the meters don’t give you feedback, like the spinning wheel on the dumb meters, with out having to add on optional stuff. Xtrvvvd, do folks just lie awake at night dreaming up stuff like that, is that why many people are not using cell phones? Because it does sound really scary.