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Thread: The No.1 smart grid benefit for consumers

  1. #1
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    The No.1 smart grid benefit for consumers

    Yesterday I did a piece on feeling the smart grid love to make the point that the industry needs to be more passionate about the energy future we're building. We need to make sure that the positive stories and successes get out there to counter some of the negativity. I came up with 10 things to love about the smart grid (hey, it was Valentine's Day).

    But I'm pretty sure my list didn't have a lot of consumer appeal. No great incentives for John or Jane Doe to jump on the smart grid bandwagon. So that leads us to today's Tuesday Topic. I'd like to get your thoughts on the one benefit you think will best sell the smart grid to consumers. Is it the ability to have more control over their energy consumption? To increase the reliability of our power system? Reduce dependence on foreign oil?

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  2. #2

    No. 1 Smart Grid benefit for consumers

    All industry representations about benefits to consumers will ring hollow if the industry continues to demand that consumers hold them harmless from the risk that such benefits do not materialize. Choose what benefit you wish to highlight - it won't matter so long as you don't believe in it yourselves.

    Nancy Brockway

  3. #3
    Fear of loss is always a big motivator no matter your background or understanding of the smart grid. If more consumers realized that energy cost will go up no mater what the industry does ( Renewables, Smart Grid, storage, energy independence)we would all start to look at how we can save individually. Early adopters may use the excuse that they are being green, saving the planet, competition with their neighbor, etc. but ultimately saving money will change the behavior of all socio-economic groups.

  4. #4
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    Consumer Control is King!

    I would like my entire family to have the capability to turn the heat/AC on and off from their cell phone at any time (and lights, other appliances, sockets in walls, etc.). Additionally, I would like a simple software to show how this is saving money for the family.

  5. #5
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    Real Energy Savings

    Consumers need to see real energy savings, and thus lower net energy bills, from any smart meter program. Without lower overall costs people are going to rapidly grow discontent.

    It also has to be reasonably easy to use. There's some dreadful statistic about how few programmable thermostats are properly programmed - the same risks being true of any RTP or data feedback system.

  6. #6

    Reduced Cost Is It.

    Quality and reliability of electricity is assumed by consumers. Environmental, geopolitical benefits, and offsetting "expected" increases are too amorphous for consumers so must be used with politicians and rate makers. The focus for utilities must be on generating rapid payback from the benefits of the smart grid in reduced truck rolls, fewer meter readers, better meter to cash conversion, etc. This also requires minimizing/eliminating homeowners' investment in new hardware (in-home displays, thermostats, appliances, etc.) in favor of using existing computers/phones. The sense of urgency should be highest among those utilities who are facing near-term investments in additional capacity who can invest in smart grid to capture homeowner efficiency instead, which will grow as penetration and usage expands.

  7. #7

    waynt features,

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Simchak View Post
    Consumers need to see real energy savings, and thus lower net energy bills, from any smart meter program. Without lower overall costs people are going to rapidly grow discontent.

    It also has to be reasonably easy to use. There's some dreadful statistic about how few programmable thermostats are properly programmed - the same risks being true of any RTP or data feedback system.

    Well over 80% of programmable thermostats are in "Hold" mode!

  8. #8
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    Saving money is only one motivator

    I agree with Larry that saving money is part of the equation, but I don't think it is the whole story. For one thing, many families spend about $3 per day on electricity. Even if we can save them 10% or even 20%, it still amounts to less than $1 per day -- not greatly motivating.

    I have this vague feeling that we are missing a chance to tap into additional motivators. For instance, I would like to see our country no longer hostage to foreign oil, and I think electric transportation can move us in that direction. But I don't see the industry making the connection to these kinds of causes in its descriptions.

    Quote Originally Posted by Larry Robinson View Post
    Fear of loss is always a big motivator no matter your background or understanding of the smart grid. If more consumers realized that energy cost will go up no mater what the industry does ( Renewables, Smart Grid, storage, energy independence)we would all start to look at how we can save individually. Early adopters may use the excuse that they are being green, saving the planet, competition with their neighbor, etc. but ultimately saving money will change the behavior of all socio-economic groups.

  9. #9
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    Tying to rate increases

    In a separate post, I mentioned that I don't think personal savings is enough of a motivator, not when the best we will be able to offer in many parts of the country is 50 cents per day (if that). But if we can also make the point that smart grid will lessen future rate increases, will keep rates from going up as fast, then perhaps we can hope that the story will be more compelling.

    Quote Originally Posted by Paul Groundwater View Post
    Quality and reliability of electricity is assumed by consumers. Environmental, geopolitical benefits, and offsetting "expected" increases are too amorphous for consumers so must be used with politicians and rate makers. The focus for utilities must be on generating rapid payback from the benefits of the smart grid in reduced truck rolls, fewer meter readers, better meter to cash conversion, etc. This also requires minimizing/eliminating homeowners' investment in new hardware (in-home displays, thermostats, appliances, etc.) in favor of using existing computers/phones. The sense of urgency should be highest among those utilities who are facing near-term investments in additional capacity who can invest in smart grid to capture homeowner efficiency instead, which will grow as penetration and usage expands.

  10. #10
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    And are we missing the chance to tie to newness, hipness and connection?

    I've been struggling to articulate something I notice in other industries. The Internet, for instance, is seen (for the most part) as a force for good. People understand that it links them to information and resources. It is hip to be connected. People feel better, more empowered by that connection.

    The same with social networks. People feel future forward, with it. Social networks connect them to the people and issues they care about.

    The smart grid is the energy network. Done right, it can connect us to the energy resources we want and need. To clean, green renewables at scale. To distributed energy. To energy storage. To power for electric transportation.

    Just as people have come to understand that they need the power of the Internet to connect them to things they want, there should be a way to help them understand that the smart grid is the energy equivalent.

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