U.S. consumers still unaware of smart grid, smart metering benefits

Dallas, May 4, 2010 – Consumer knowledge of smart grid technologies is low, even as utilities have deployed 13 million smart meters to U.S. households, according to international research firm Parks Associates.

The firm, as part of its annual service “Residential Energy Management: Opportunities for Digital Systems and Services,” reports only 11 percent of U.S. consumers are familiar with the term “smart grid.” This low awareness poses a risk to future deployment plans and opens the door for communications service providers to grab market share from utilities by offering their own energy monitoring solutions.

“Utilities plan to deploy more than 50 million smart meters by 2014, but they need to improve their educational outreach if they want consumers to embrace this technology,” said Bill Ablondi, director, home systems research, Parks Associates. “Growing skepticism of the efficacy of smart meters could also hinder growth.”

Consumers in Texas and California have filed lawsuits in which they blame smart meters for unexpected hikes in their electricity bills. The backlash from these stories threatens customer compliance with future smart grid deployments and could disrupt utility plans to create a more robust, interconnected grid that offers advanced services such as monitoring and time-of-use billing.

“Communications service providers, which also have existing customer relationships, could step in with meter-independent services,” Ablondi said. “Utilities need to increase their educational efforts to bolster their market presence and diffuse consumer concerns. Smart grid deployments are forcing them to become evangelists for new technologies, which is an unfamiliar role to most utilities.”

Parks Associates is a market research and consulting company specializing in emerging consumer technology products and services. Founded in 1986, Parks Associates creates research capital for companies ranging from Fortune 500 to small start-ups through market reports, primary studies, consumer research, custom research, workshops, executive conferences and annual service subscriptions.

Each year, Parks Associates hosts executive thought leadership conferences Connections, with support from the Consumer Electronics Association, and Connections Europe. In addition, Parks Associates produces the online publication Industry Insights in conjunction with the Connections Conference series.


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