Increasing numbers of utility customers care about the climate and want action, new report shows

Residential consumers in the US and Canada are more and more making the connection between smart energy technologies – including electric vehicles, smart home devices and energy-efficient products – and addressing climate change, according to the latest report from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC).

More than ever, the new research shows a strong influence of environmental concern on the interests, behaviors and motivations of energy consumers. In the “Beneficial Electrification: The Voice of the Consumer” report, the statement “Electricity is becoming cleaner and more renewable every day” resonated most strongly with consumers. And in research on lower-income Americans, the Environmentally Driven emerged as a distinct persona, with 44 percent of respondents stating that they always think about the environmental benefits of energy efficiency.


Patty Durand, former Executive Director of the SECC gave a great overview of the State of the Utility Consumer during a DISTRIBUTECH+ session in September 2020. Watch the replay here (free registration required).


The “2021 State of the Consumer” report highlights the major themes that emerged from SECC’s 2020 consumer research, two white papers and a U.S. Department of Energy report on Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Last year’s research included a report on consumer interest in beneficial electrification, video interviews with consumers during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and an in-depth look at lower-income consumers.

From these studies, SECC developed six themes on what consumers want today:

  • Consumers are making the connection between smart energy and slowing climate change.
  • Consumers across all segments are interested in smart energy-enabled products.
  • Lower-income consumers are keenly interested in smart energy and the environment.
  • Consumers need more tools for assessing programs and technologies.
  • Consumers look to their utilities for support as they deal with the impact of COVID-19.
  • Education and engagement are essential to realizing the promise of beneficial electrification and AMI.

The new report is designed to help industry stakeholders – including utilities, consumer advocates, solution providers and regulators – better understand today’s consumers and develop programs, services and technologies that meet their needs more effectively.

The “2021 State of the Consumer” report can be downloaded here.

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Jennifer Runyon manages content on Renewable Energy World and POWERGRID International and also serves as the conference advisory committee chair for DISTRIBUTECH International. You can reach her at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com

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