Utilities Improving Consumer Engagement

Author: Spencer Ogden
Date posted25/Oct/2011
Author: Spencer Ogden

A new report from Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) found a significant shift in utility consumer engagement efforts. The study examined the deployment and consumer acceptance of smart grid programs from more than 20 United States electric utilities, with a combined deployment of more than 10 million smart meters.


The Excellence in Consumer Engagement study concluded utilities were becoming more successful in improving customer understanding via upgraded communications, service response, incentive programs, and internal consumer engagement processes. The report is being released at the Smart Energy International conference.
Patty Durand, executive director of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, notes, “The report clearly shows that utilities are making a shift toward new and fundamentally different customer engagement best practices. As a result, consumers are responding positively to new energy programs that offer direct, immediate and deliverable value.”

The study highlights 10 core findings and recommendations dealing with smart grid consumer engagement issues regarding advance metering infrastructure (AMI), demand response (DR), and energy efficiency (EE) programs.

Matt Dinsmore, director of Altman Vilandrie’s energy practice believes the industry is beginning to transition “to a more consumer-centric service delivery model, moving away from the ‘install and repair’ model to more proactive customer engagement. This is a fundamental shift in how customers interact with energy and their energy company.”

The majority of participating utilities found that early education and prompt response to complaints helped resolve the majority of concerns in program deployments. Successful education initiatives focused on deployment logistics and near-term benefits, especially cost savings and financial incentives.

The study examined initiatives and included interviews with representatives from AEP Ohio; Arizona Public Service; Austin Energy; Centerpoint; Central Maine Power; The Climate & Energy Project; ComEd; Connexus Energy; Duke Energy; Memphis Light, Gas & Power; Oklahoma Gas & Electric; Oncor; Pacific Gas & Electric; Portland General Electric; Reliant Energy; Sacramento Municipal Utility District; Salt River Project; San Diego Gas & Electric; Southern California Edison; Wright-Hennepin CEA; and Xcel Energy.

The SGCC is a nonprofit organization committed to promoting the benefits of modernized electrical systems.