US attitudes towards smart grid improved in 2012: Navigant Research

The attitude of US consumers towards smart-grid and smart-meter technology improved over the course of 2012, according to a new survey from Navigant Research.

Utilities have struggled to communicate the benefits of these technologies to consumers, but doing so is critical if smart-grid programs are to succeed in the long term.

According to Navigant, however, last year there was a noticeable increase in favorable attitudes towards the concept of the smart grid in general and smart meters in particular.

The attitude of US consumers towards smart-grid and smart-meter technology improved over the course of 2012, according to a new survey from Navigant Research.

Utilities have struggled to communicate the benefits of these technologies to consumers, but doing so is critical if smart-grid programs are to succeed in the long term.

According to Navigant, however, last year there was a noticeable increase in favorable attitudes towards the concept of the smart grid in general and smart meters in particular.

Some 41% of the 1,001 consumers who participated in Navigant’s survey said they had either a “favorable” or “very favorable” attitude towards the smart grid and smart meters, up from 31% during the survey conducted in 2011.

“Less than 10% of the respondents have an unfavorable opinion of smart grids and smart meters, which is an encouraging sign for utilities and policymakers,” said Neil Strother, a senior research analyst with Navigant Research. “However, utilities still have a long way to go in persuading a majority of their customers that they should approach these technologies with enthusiasm.”

The survey also indicated that consumer attitudes towards the smart grid vary in direct proportion to educational attainment and income level.

Nearly half of respondents with graduate degrees had favorable opinions, while about 26% of those with only a high school degree showed positive responses.

Similarly, more than 45% of respondents earning at least $75,000 annually had positive opinions of smart grids and smart meters.

The survey assessed consumer preferences, opinions and awareness regarding smart-grid applications and was conducted in the autumn of 2012 using a nationally representative and demographically balanced sample.