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March 16, 2009: Consumers Concerned About Energy, But It's Not Turning Into Action

March 16, 2009
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WASHINGTON - Oracle Corp. has announced the results of its “Turning Information Into Power” research report, which indicates that consumers are concerned about home energy costs and are interested in renewable energy, but their interest is not yet translating into action.

Oracle surveyed 604 consumers and 200 utility managers in the United States to look at consumers’ energy consumption habits, perception of utilities’ ability to provide useful information, and demand for new technologies as well as utilities’ opinions on and preparation for the emergence of renewable energy and the move to a smart grid.

The survey shows that U.S. consumers are concerned about the cost of energy and are interested in new energy options:

• 94 percent are concerned with the energy costs of their primary residence.

• 95 percent are interested in receiving detailed information on their energy use.

• 76 percent are interested in renewable energy technologies for their home, and 72 percent of those respondents state that “reducing personal energy costs” is the most important benefit of renewable energy.

However, the report notes that consumers’ interest is not turning into action at this time, and that utilities can improve their communication with customers.

• When asked if they would pay a fee to view a detailed, real-time energy consumption report, just 20 percent of Americans said yes.

• Only 6 percent of respondents have installed some type of renewable energy source in the last 12 months.

• When asked to give their utility suppliers a grade on their “current ability to provide detailed, useful information on energy consumption,” only 14 percent of Americans gave their utility an “A.” When grading themselves on the same question, only 16 percent of utility managers gave their organizations an “A.”

• While more than half (58 percent) of electricity and multi-service utilities surveyed currently offer net metering programs - which allow homeowners to generate their own renewable energy or sell it back to their utilities - just 11 percent of these utilities say their customers are actively pursuing the programs.

The survey also says that utilities believe a smart grid is essential to meeting future energy needs, and they are starting to take steps to implement it.

• 91 percent of utility managers believe it is critical that the U.S. adopts smart grid technologies. They selected “improving power flow management” and “supplying customers with the tools to monitor and reduce energy use at home” as the top two benefits.

• 41 percent of utilities have assessed the opportunity for smart grid technologies and 16 percent have begun implementation.

• Utility managers believe “upfront consumer expenses” (42 percent) and a “lack of consistent industry technology standards” (30 percent) will be the biggest roadblocks to maximizing benefits of the smart grid.

Publication date: 03/16/2009

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