- Sustainable — Smart homes, meters and grids improve energy efficiency and help to increase the use of sustainable decentralized and renewable energy generation.
- Measurable — Smart meters measure customers' energy use in real-time; smart grids use sensors to measure performance and raise alerts on any network failures or power outages.
- Automated — Smart grids and homes have built-in controls that automatically optimize performance. For example, smart grids can take self-corrective actions to avoid distribution failures, and smart homes can react automatically to changing prices to adjust energy consumption.
- Responsive — Smart technologies are network-based. A two-way flow of energy and information enables them to respond to fluctuations in demand, system overloads, availability of different energy sources, etc.
- Technology-based — Smart technologies exploit new communication and information technologies, such as wide area measurement systems that help utilities to balance supply.
Introducing smart technology is costing billions of dollars. Extracting maximum value from that investment requires a firm grasp of what customers want.
In introducing smart, many P&Us have focused on technology and regulatory obligations — not their customers.
But smart technology puts unprecedented power in the hands of consumers to manage and control their energy use. Customer resistance to implementation in markets like the US and Australia has alerted the P&U sector to consumers' new power to say "no".
To gain insight into current consumer views, we interviewed householders in 13 countries about:
- Attitudes to their energy suppliers
- Their understanding of smart technology
- Their interest in new, smart-enabled services
Our research suggests some key implications for utilities, including how to improve customer focus, and six factors for success when introducing new smart services.
To capture the sector's response, we discussed our findings with P&U leaders around the world and asked what impact they thought smart consumers will have on their business.
The lesson overall is clear: getting value from P&Us massive investment in smart requires a stronger customer focus from the sector. Consumers currently don't trust their energy suppliers, which presents huge barriers. Smart technology gives people more control and choice, so P&Us need to learn how to engage more effectively with customers in order to win in smart.