Today in Cleantech

What do consumers want out of the smart grid? This morning, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative released an in-depth report (DOC) laying out some of the fundamentals to getting utility customers on board with smart grid technology. Judith Schwartz, the group’s research director, has compiled an impressive array of research that should be interesting reading for entrepreneurs trying to tackle the subject. One important point she made to me in a Friday interview is that one-size-fits-all approaches aren’t the best way to bring new in-home energy-smart technologies to market. Rather, tech-savvy and green-minded early adopters will be a critical early market, driving early revenues that will help the industry grow to scale. Schwartz also questioned the idea that social media-style competitions are a sure-fire way to get people involved in energy efficiency. Plenty of otherwise interested consumers may be turned off by having their energy efficiency efforts compared to their neighbors, she noted. Finally, it will be critical for utilities to present customers with the “business as usual” alternatives to investing early and often in energy saving. After all, with electricity prices on the rise and energy and carbon constraints adding pressure to cut consumption, there’s a price to doing nothing — and utilities that can put a number on that price may find it easier to convince customers that spending on smart grid alternatives is a wiser choice.