J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Utilities Face Consumer Awareness and Engagement Challenges with Smart Meters and Related

   J.D. Power and Associates Reports: Utilities Face Consumer Awareness and
       Engagement Challenges with Smart Meters and Related Technologies

PR Newswire

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Oct. 24, 2012

WESTLAKE VILLAGE, Calif., Oct. 24,2012 /PRNewswire/ -- While many of the
smart meter products and services utilities provide encourage their customers
to actively participate in managing their energy costs, utilities still face
challenges to smart meter introduction in the marketplace, according to the
J.D. Power and Associates 2012 Smart Pulse Study^SM and 2012 Customer
Engagement Strategies Study^SM released today.

(Logo: http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20050527/LAF028LOGO-a)

The inaugural Smart Pulse Study examines key customer engagement
indicators—such as smart grid and smart meter awareness levels; smart meter
installation satisfaction levels; and customer adoption levels of products and
services—among residential utility customers who have a smart meter installed.
Respondents interviewed for this study are customers of utilities that have a
smart meter installation rate of at least 85 percent.

While still being rolled out by many utility companies across the United
States, smart meters have been met with both enthusiasm and concern from
customers and media alike. Customer perception challenges exist not only with
the smart meter monitoring technology, but also with how well utilities
communicate with customers regarding smart meters and their benefits, both
before and after installation.

"The customer communication and education efforts of utility companies are an
integral part of any smart meter technology initiative," said Christopher
Perdue, director of the smart energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates.
"Ensuring that customers are knowledgeable of smart meters and that their
questions are answered has a great impact on customers' favorability toward
their utility company."

Slightly more than one-third (36%) of customers surveyed for the study are
unaware of any smart meter efforts made by their utility company, while the
remaining 64 percent are aware of some effort, whether it be regarding smart
grid, smart meters only, or both smart grid and smart meters. However, not all
utility companies excel in raising awareness of their smart meter efforts, as
there is a gap of 56 percentage points between the highest and lowest levels
of customer awareness (84% vs. 28%, respectively).

The study finds that customers of Georgia Power, PPL Electric Utilities,
Portland General Electric and SMUD have the most positive opinions of their
utility after smart meter installation.

The method through which customers receive information from their utility also
impacts both awareness levels and sentiment toward their utility. Among
customers who receive smart meter information via text message or the
utility's blog, more than 50 percent say they have a more positive opinion of
their utility than those who do not receive text messages. Among customers who
receive information via other communication channels, such as bill inserts,
door hangers and direct mail, more than 60 percent say the information did not
change their opinion of the utility.

"The top four methods of smart meter communications that have the most
positive impact on customer opinion are mobile- and Web-based, indicating that
customers want quick and easy accessibility to the information, as well as the
potential for interaction with the utility, if desired," said Perdue.

Looking forward to forthcoming technologies and customer interaction methods,
the 2012 Customer Engagement Strategies Study measures the effectiveness of
smart energy educational messaging aimed at motivating customers to enroll in
Green Button[1] online accounts, and social gaming strategies designed to
reward customers for reducing unnecessary electricity use.

The study tests Green Button educational communications, identifies their
comparative impacts on customer enrollment, and defines optimal communication
platforms for targeting discrete customer segments. The study also identifies
the positive impacts of educational communications on utility brand image,
such as perceived customer focus and innovativeness, underscoring the business
value of effective communications.

However, motivating customers to enroll in Green Button initiatives is just
the first step. The study also focuses on how companies might then incentivize
their customers to use the energy information to reduce usage or demand. The
study tests the effectiveness of social gaming strategies as incentives for
motivating customers to save energy in pursuit of reward points, prizes and
recognition.

"The utility industry is beginning to employ game mechanics as a supplement to
traditional energy efficiency incentives," said Peter Shaw, senior director of
the energy practice at J.D. Power and Associates. "Our research identifies the
power of individual rewards and community-based competitions to motivate smart
energy behavior. We expect gamified energy conservation and demand response to
grow as an instrument in the smart energy utility's toolbox."

The 2012 Smart Pulse Study is based on 9,368 online interviews conducted from
August 29, 2012, through September 10, 2012, among residential customers of 17
electric utility brands across the United States and Canada in which at least
85 percent of customers have a smart meter installed.

The 2012 Customer Engagement Strategies Study is based on 16,712 online
interviews conducted from September 10, 2012, through September 23, 2012,
among residential customers of 70 U.S. electric utilities that represent all
of the industry's leading electric utility brands.

About J.D. Power and Associates
Headquartered in Westlake Village, Calif., J.D. Power and Associates is a
global marketing information services company providing forecasting,
performance improvement, social media and customer satisfaction insights and
solutions. The company's quality and satisfaction measurements are based on
responses from millions of consumers annually. For more information on car
reviews and ratings, car insurance, health insurance, cell phone ratings, and
more, please visit JDPower.com. J.D. Power and Associates is a business unit
of The McGraw-Hill Companies.

About The McGraw-Hill Companies
McGraw-Hill announced on September 12, 2011, its intention to separate into
two public companies: McGraw-Hill Financial, a leading provider of content and
analytics to global financial markets, and McGraw-Hill Education, a leading
education company focused on digital learning and education services
worldwide. McGraw-Hill Financial's leading brands include Standard & Poor's
Ratings Services, S&P Capital IQ, S&P Indices, Platts energy information
services and J.D. Power and Associates. With sales of $6.2 billion in 2011,
the Corporation has approximately 23,000 employees across more than 280
offices in 40 countries. Additional information is available at
http://www.mcgraw-hill.com/.

Media Relations Contacts:
Jeff Perlman; Brandware Public Relations; Woodland Hills, Calif.; (818)
598-1115; jperlman@brandwarepr.com

Syvetril Perryman; J.D. Power and Associates; Westlake Village, Calif.; (805)
418-8103; media.relations@jdpa.com

No advertising or other promotional use can be made of the information in this
release without the express prior written consent of J.D. Power and
Associates. www.jdpower.com/corporate

[1] Green Button refers to a new generation of utility programs that give
customers access to their electricity usage information in a standardized
format, via the utility website.

SOURCE J.D. Power and Associates

Website: http://www.jdpower.com