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Firms to spread smart grid awareness to consumers

Posted: 29 Mar 2010     Print Version  Bookmark and Share

Keywords:smart grid  consumer market  home control 

Consumer electronics and technology companies, retailers and consumer advocacy groups, have formed the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) to build consumer acceptance and use of the smart grid.

Launched at DistribuTECH, the SGCC will work to understand consumer needs and preferences, reach out to build awareness and educate consumers about the benefits of the smart grid, and share best practices for consumer engagement and empowerment.

The SGCC has three priorities:

• In-depth research on consumer awareness, acceptance, and use of the smart grid with emphasis on their needs, preferences and priorities;
•  Outreach and education to allow consumers to better understand the smart grid, its issues and its potential;
• Development of best practices to involve and empower consumers in the roll out of smart grid technologies.

The federal stimulus programme for the smart grid will reach more than Rs.18,470.80 crore ($4 billion) and by 2015, nearly half of all North American consumers will have next-generation smart meters. The SGCC wants to ensure these investments engage consumers and deliver the energy efficiency and the savings promised. Consumer adoption of the new technology and services being deployed is the key to the success of the smart grid.

The cross-industry initiative started after Control4, a leader in affordable IP-based home control systems and newcomer to the smart grid space, recognised a common concern emerging from partners, customers, and smart grid conferences; that the industry wasn't equipped to understand and support consumer reactions to the technology upgrade. In just a few months' time, the concept to bring industry leaders together to take on smart grid consumer education became a reality in the formation of the non-profit organisation, the SGCC. The broad representation of the group and support from established smart grid and consumer advocacy organisations reinforces the importance of the SGCC's mission.

"For many reasons—energy independence, energy efficiency, integrating renewables, accommodating electric vehicles, and global competitiveness—we must modernise our electric system. But we can't do that without the support and involvement of the ultimate customer," said Jesse Berst, acting executive director of the SGCC. "We formed the SGCC to bring important stakeholders together to do the necessary research, education and collaboration to make sure we include the consumer in the conversation."

SGCC founding members include Magnolia/Best Buy, Control4, Ember, General Electric, GridWise Alliance, IBM, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Ohio Consumers' Counsel, and Silver Spring Networks. Additionally the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition and the Future of Privacy Forum have joined as affiliate members, contributing resources to the SGCC. Other founding members include in kind members Stoel Rives LLP, SutherlandGold Group, and the HEAT agency.

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