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Favorable attitudes toward the concept of the smart grid - and smart meters, in particular - increased noticeably in 2012, according to a consumer survey from Navigant Research.

The survey polled 1,001 U.S. consumers and finds that 41% of the respondents have a "favorable" or "very favorable" attitude toward smart grid and smart meters - an increase of 10 percentage points over the findings from Navigant Research's 2011 survey.

As rollouts of smart grid systems and smart meters have accelerated in the U.S., utilities have struggled to effectively communicate the benefits of these technologies for consumers. Navigant Research says convincing end users to embrace this technology, by communicating the possibilities for greater energy management and conservation it enables, is critical to the long-term success of utility smart grid programs.

“Less than 10 percent of the respondents have an unfavorable opinion of smart grids and smart meters, which is an encouraging sign for utilities and policymakers,” says Neil Strother, senior research analyst at Navigant Research. “However, utilities still have a long way to go in persuading a majority of their customers that they should approach these technologies with enthusiasm.”

Consumer attitudes toward the smart grid vary in direct proportion to educational attainment and income level, the report says. Nearly half of the respondents with graduate degrees have favorable opinions, while about 26% of those with only a high school degree showed positive responses. Similarly, more than 45% of people earning at least $75,000 have positive opinions of smart grids and smart meters.


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