Survey: Low-income consumers not that hot on smart grid


By: SGN Staff

Editor's note: SGN's Jesse Berst was part of the team that founded the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative in the spring of 2010. Two and a half years later, the organization has more than 90 members and has become a vital source of consumer research under the leadership of Executive Director Patty Durand.


The latest case-in-point: "Spotlight on Low Income Consumers," which provides "an in-depth understanding of the needs of this vulnerable population along with suggestions for utilities seeking to reach these consumers." Important reading and you can't beat the price - free.


Low-income consumers are generally less supportive of and knowledgeable about smart grid initiatives than the general population, according to a new survey from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative.


The new survey is part of a series designed to gauge public awareness, attitudes and understanding of the smart grid and its benefits to consumers. SGCC says the survey of low-income consumers could be used by utilities to help them better understand those customers and to bring marketing and communications for programs more in line with their interests.



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.Among the major findings from the survey:

·         About four in 10 low-income consumers have a basic or thorough understanding of smart grid and smart meters

·         Four in 10 of those who are aware of smart grid and smart meters described their general feelings as "favorable," while slightly more than 20% were "neutral"

·         Six in 10 of those consumers approve of their utilities implementing smart grid and smart meter technology

·         The most important smart grid/smart meter benefit is preventing outages and reducing the duration of those that do occur


Most of those responses are substantially lower than for the general population, although 74% of low-income consumers said the seven smart grid/smart meter benefits included in the survey were important.


Also, those consumers are as interested in dynamic pricing programs as the general population, but cold to "Pay as you go" programs which they see as beneficial to the utilities but not to low-income consumers, particularly those living on fixed incomes and those in poor health.


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