Regulatory mandates and smart grid technologies are creating an opportunity for utilities to adopt a new approach to customer service—an approach that balances a range of strategic and operational...
Smart Grid: A Customer Challenge
Consumers hold the key to technology’s benefits.
sustain results. The next wave of studies needs to reveal how information and persuasion are best shaped to meet adoption segment characteristics, and to clarify the factors that generate a positive and sustained implementation within each group. Finally, serving customers in the more complex environment created by the smart grid will require very different services and employee skills. Utilities should, however, work to avoid reinventing programs to motivate and develop employee capabilities ( e.g., NARUC’s Smart-Grid Collaborative). There will be a special role here for industry associations or regional system operators to help share best practices and materials to accelerate implementation and results.
This is a different and less technical approach. But the industry has reached a point where speculation needs to be replaced by a more systematic focus on what it will take to engage customers and retain them in smart-grid programs.
1. Jesse Berst, “NARUC Chairman Charts Smart Grid Path,” SmartGridNews.com, Jan. 9, 2009.
2. Andy Greenberg, “The Smart Grid vs. Grandma,” Forbes.Com, May 15, 2009.
3. For an expanded discussion of curtailment and efficiency see Thomas Sanquist, “Human Factors and Energy Use,” Human Factors and Ergonomics Society Bulletin , Vol. 51, No. 11, November 2008.
4. Leslie Kaufman, “Utilities Turn Their Customers Green, With Envy,” The New York Times , Jan. 31, 2009.
5. See Claxton, et. al ., “Policy Implications for Utility Residential Consumer Surveys” Consumers and Energy Conservation , Praeger, New York, 1981, for a detailed set of coefficients and model of residential electricity consumption (R2 = .968).
6. Ibid, Greenberg.
7. See Everett Rogers, Diffusion of Innovations , Free Press, New York, 2003, now in its fifth edition. Adopter categories and process characteristics are borrowed here from this source.
8. Ibid, Greenberg.
9. Candace Heckman, “Off Peak Energy Plan Can Cost Users More, Utility Admits,” Seattle Post Intelligencer , Oct. 24, 2002).