Who's happier: Customers with smart meters or those without?


By: SGN Staff


New research from J.D. Power and Associates indicates that satisfaction is higher among utility customers who have smart meters than customers who don't have the new technology. Only eight percent of utility customers surveyed said their homes have smart meters, but their overall satisfaction averaged 667 points on a 1,000-point scale, 43 points higher than those customers whose homes are not equipped with the advanced meters.


The research also showed that customers who are aware of smart grids and smart meters, and their utility's implementation of them, are noticeably more satisfied than customers who aren't aware of the new technologies.


However, J.D. Power is working on a much bigger game plan to find out what's on utility customers' minds. The company is embarking on the J.D. Power Smart Energy Consumer Behavioral Segmentation StudySM - an effort to help energy providers with their smart grid planning. The company says it is the "most comprehensive segmentation research study yet undertaken on the drivers of smart energy consumer preferences."


The results are due for release in October, and the inaugural study will begin with a national survey of 40,000 households served by more than 80 of the largest utility providers in the U.S. It will focus on smart energy products and communications channel preferences at national, regional and utility-specific levels.


Referring to the initial findings on smart meters, David Steele, senior director of J.D. Power's smart energy practice, said "While this marks an auspicious beginning for smart meter and smart grid programs, gaining widespread consumer acceptance is incumbent on successful consumer education, adoption and engagement with the technology. It's imperative for energy providers to understand the actual drivers of effective program design and customer communications that will lead consumers to engage with these new options and services."


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