Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Smart Grids Are a Feasible Solution But Major Education Initiative Needed

A recent study has suggested that some American consumers may be warming to the idea smart grids to manage utility delivery. Smart grid initiatives mostly focus on an attempt to modernize the current utility grids. However, there are several misnomers and inaccuracies in the information that is currently widely available to the general public. The disparate and at time incorrect information has divided consumers into distinct groups with varying degrees of support for smart grid initiatives.

The study found that most people fit into one of five categories: Concerned Greens, Young Americans, Easy Street, DIY & Save, and Traditionalists. Each of the groups represented ideals of mostly socio-economic sects and factors. The research found, for example, that the Concerned Greens were vehemently protective of the environment and completely open to smart grids, while the Traditionalists fell on the opposite side of the spectrum and recognized no reason for energy reform.

Furthermore, the research yielded results exposing the major motivations behind those in a great economic divide. For the Easy Street consumers with higher incomes, they were less motivated to alter their lifestyles or habits. Interestingly, the DIY & Save group also show little motivation for change as their main goal was to provide for their families. In both groups, a lower importance on the environmental impact of their lifestyles was evident.

Finally, and possibly the most influential group, Young Americans, disclosed that they were interested in change and willing to adapt, but needed more education about the environmental payoff and economic benefits of a smart grid initiative before they could rally behind the idea.

Understandably, a significant factor in creating more support for smart grid initiatives and modernizations will include a push for education. Public awareness of the benefits, the realities of the modernization efforts and a frank discussion of the environmental and economic effects will need to drive future rhetoric and efforts.

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