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).
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.”