The Infosys Utilities Blog seeks to discuss and answer the industry’s burning Smart Grid questions through the commentary of the industry’s leading Smart Grid and Sustainability experts. This blogging community offers a rich source of fresh new ideas on the planning, design and implementation of solutions for the utility industry of tomorrow.

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What is the profile of the "smart grid consumer"?

The end goal of smart grid is to assemble an intelligent infrastructure that allows both the utility and the consumer to make smarter energy decisions. The first phase of deployment mainly focused on the provisioning of advanced metering, with a more focused upside for the utility (meter reading savings, turn-on, turn-off, etc). As a result of many of the metering pilots, utilities have discovered that adoption by the consumer is crucial. That being said, how well do we know the "smart grid consumer"?

On face value, we understand the electricity consumption patterns of the individual energy consumer. Some utilities (in unregulated markets, the retail electric provider) even have access to credit risk information. For many utilities, this is the depth of the utility/consumer relationship. Unfortunately, with the roll-out of additional smart grid features, such as time of use pricing, demand response and demand side management, that surface relationship will not assist the utility in adoption.

Many pilots for consumer demand tailoring activities have proven ineffective or marginal, but my argument to the pilot is that the primary pilot consumer set was too broad and the relationship too narrow. There are many customer segmenting tactics available to utilities based on web interactions and profiles that can focus the consumer segment more appropriately. Like most new technologies, adoption is going to be a function of the customer profile. Individuals who are technology enthusiasts and fall in a technology adopter profile are the appropriate target audience for pilots. Consumer adoption will not map directly to the response seen from these adopters, but for many initiatives it is consumer inertia that changes consumption patterns

My point is that to limit consumer resistance to smart grid initiatives, it is important to understand your customer beyond cursory energy consumption. This relationship must be much stronger to better target adopters of future technology and smart grid initiatives.

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