The Next 10 Years: Maybe customer engagement isn't so dang important

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Editor's note: This is the fourth installment of our The Next 10 Years series where industry insiders offer insights on smart grid issues and trends they expect to see in the coming decade. (The previous segments are linked at the end of today's story.) As always, we welcome your comments; please use the Talk Back form at the bottom of the page.

 

 

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By Liz Enbysk

SGN Managing Editor

 

In yesterday's piece on Empowered "digital natives" becoming a force to reckon with we highlighted industry insiders' perspectives on how (and why) we need to get consumers excited about the benefits they can reap from a smart grid.

 

Most recognize it's an uphill battle – and not just because of angst over smart meters. A recent Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative survey found 54% of consumers hadn't even heard of the smart grid.

 

And that's the point Mike Edmonds, S&C Electric's VP for Strategic Solutions, made when we asked our industry insiders about any major changes they anticipate in the way customer engagement is handled in the future.

 

 "Despite all the discussion in recent years about the need for consumer engagement, today few consumers have a clear picture of how a smart grid can benefit them (if they even have any idea what a smart grid is)," Edmonds said.

 

"The reality," Edmonds continued, "is that the biggest benefits that smart grid systems can deliver to consumers today have not received nearly enough focus in consumer outreach efforts. Many programs have focused on how consumers can save money through time-of-use pricing programs, but the true financial savings to consumers aren't that big and so the benefits are less than compelling. Everyone cares about power reliability, though, so I expect this benefit to take center stage in customer communications."