in Up Front
print the content item



The smart grid can foster an "energy divide" for low-income consumers, according to a new research report published by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).

The SGCC, a nonprofit organization that aims to advance the adoption of smart grids, says that with a substantial portion of the consumer benefits of smart grids coming from greater awareness of energy usage, many low-income consumers - particularly older consumers - lack access to utility Web portals and other online resources.

In fact, the study indicates that 23% of U.S. residential low-income consumers have not accessed the Internet in over six months. An even greater number - just under half - of low-income consumers age 65 and older indicate that they have not accessed the Internet in the past six months.

However, there are utilities taking steps to address this issue, the SGCC notes. For example, Pepco Holdings Inc. makes its advanced metering infrastructure interval data available to customers through call center representatives and paper reports.

The SGCC also reports that there is a significant gap between renters and homeowners regarding the ability to increase energy efficiency improvements within their places of residence. For example, 57% of renters say that they are not allowed to make changes to their home or appliances to increase overall energy efficiency.

"Every consumer, regardless of socioeconomic status, should be aware of the benefits the smart grid provides," comments SGCC Executive Director Patty Durand. "In order to increase awareness of a consumer-safe, consumer-friendly smart grid, utilities must be innovative and create a multi-channel approach to disseminating valuable smart grid data to low-income consumers."

The "Spotlight on Low Income Consumers II" report is the second part of a national study first conducted in 2012. The report can be downloaded here.


Hybrid Energy Innovations 2015
Latest Top Stories

Duke Energy Commits $500M To Major Solar Expansion In N.C.

The utility company says the investment will help further diversify its portfolio, as well as increase solar power for its North Carolina customers by 60%.


Sensus Issues Refund To SaskPower After Smart Meter Woes

As SaskPower continues to swap out its Sensus units following several meter failures, the two companies have reached an agreement in order for the utility to recover costs.


The Smart Utility's Guide To Choosing A Smart Meter

Electricity providers across North America are taking on grid modernization. This article outlines the myriad factors a utility should consider in order to select the best-possible smart meter.


DOE Report: U.S. Wind Power Prices Reach All-Time Low

According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), wind power continues to play a larger role in the U.S.' energy mix and is the cheapest it has ever been in the country.


Survey Reveals What U.S. Consumers Expect From Their Utilities

GE's new survey measures Americans' views on the state and future of the grid, as well as how much extra consumers would be willing to pay for better power reliability.

Hybrid Energy Innovations 2015
S&C Electric_id176
edf_id180
Future Energy_id187