Report: Customer engagement for utilities still elusive

Dive Brief:

  • The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative has issued its 2016 State of the Consumer report, finding consumers are beginning to reap the benefits of a more modernized electric grid, but challenges remain in getting them to engage with their usage data and boost trust in their utility. 
  • The group said consumers appear to have changed in the last five years, and today are eager to adopt new technologies and attach a higher importance to the grid's ability to incorporate renewable energy.
  • But utilities may be at risk of losing consumers' trust, however, with the report showing many do not believe their power provider is working for their best interest.

Dive Insight:

The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative's report gives a glimpse into how modern consumers are interacting with a modern grid, finding much progress but also work remaining to be done.

The report “serves to further define consumer’s interests and motivations," said SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand, and tries to "provide a more thorough understanding of their behavior for stakeholders.”

As technology has changed, so have consumers and their priorities. The report points to growing interest in renewable and smart energy solutions, and consumers who want access to new energy products. 

“It’s about power providers understanding their customers’ behavior and tailoring smart energy programs in ways that encourage participation," Durand said. "Ultimately, that’s how the smart grid community will further connect with consumer and help them actualize the benefits of a modern grid.”

Among the challenges ahead for utilities, the report notes that consumers are asking to get more information about their energy usage, but "the utility industry has not yet figured out a way to make granular usage data compelling enough to drive ongoing consumer engagement." 

Unlocking energy data could boost energy savings for customers, according to another recently released report, which also noted the difficulty accessing the data for customers. 

The Collaborative also tested consumer trust and found that the lowest-ranked factor across all segments was “my utility acts in my best interest.”

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Filed Under: Technology