Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative forms to foster adoption of the smart grid

Washington, DC –To help build consumer acceptance and use of the smart grid, a group of smart grid leaders today announced the formation of the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC).   The founding members of the SGCC include consumer electronics and technology companies, retailers, consumer advocacy groups, and utilities dedicated to maximizing the value of the grid for consumers.  Launched at DistribuTECH, which is the nation’s largest gathering of energy utilities and technologists, 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:

1. In-depth research on consumer awareness, acceptance, and use of the smart grid with emphasis on their needs, preferences and priorities 2. Outreach and education to allow consumers to better understand the smart grid, its issues and its potential 3. Development of  best practices to involve and empower consumers  in the roll out of smart grid technologies

The federal stimulus program for the smart grid will reach more than $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.

“For many reasons — energy independence, energy efficiency, integrating renewables, accommodating electric vehicles, and global competitiveness — we must modernize 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.”

The cross-industry initiative started after Control4, a leader in affordable IP-based home control systems and newcomer to the smart grid space, recognized 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 organization, the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative.  The broad representation of the group and support from established smart grid and consumer advocacy organizations reinforces the importance of the SGCC’s mission.

“There’s been intense work and focus on the technology, energy efficiency and economic advancements the smart grid enables, but if we as an industry don’t turn our attention to the consumer, to drive participation and acceptance, the real promise of the smart grid, energy independence, can never be realized, ” said Richard Walker, President, Control4 Energy Systems.

“The smart grid is of critical importance to the future of the United States.  The Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative will help its member companies to further the transformation of our power grid by focusing specifically on the energy consumer,” said Guido Bartels, General Manager of Energy and Utilities at IBM.  “Along with our utility clients we have long been looking at ways to empower consumers to make informed decisions, so taking on a founding role with this collaborative is a logical next step for IBM.”

“Around the world, countries, including the United States, are realizing the clear need to modernize our electrical infrastructure to support the energy demands of our 21st Century society,” said Bob Gilligan, vice president, GE Energy Services. “A smarter electricity grid will enable us to integrate and optimize more renewable energy such as wind and solar, as well as plug-in electric vehicles. It will also increase power reliability and operational efficiencies to deliver greater productivity both for the utility and the consumer.  It will empower consumers to manage their energy usage and save money without compromising their lifestyle. To make this smarter grid a reality, informing and engaging consumers is critical. The SGCC is an opportunity for key stakeholders to work together to better understand consumer needs and articulate the value and benefits of a smart grid for consumers.”

“It is crucial that all stakeholders can work cooperatively to move our industrial-age electric grid into the information age,” said Katherine Hamilton, President GridWise Alliance.  “We have reached a point of deployment where consumers are as important an ingredient as the technology that backs the system and the dollars that fund the modernization of this nation’s new energy economy.  The GridWise Alliance is looking forward to participating in the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative to help consumers reap the benefits of the smart grid.”  The GridWise Alliance is a coalition of 125 organizations advocating for the deployment of a smarter grid for the public good.

“There is a tremendous amount of change going on in the electric world,” said Janine Migden-Ostrander, Ohio’s Consumers’ Counsel. “The availability of carefully designed programs that can benefit residential consumers is key to providing them additional choices and giving them more control over their energy consumption.  But education will be a key component to making the smart grid a useful consumer tool. We are excited to work with the SGCC, to share our knowledge and draw from the expertise the collaborative will offer.” The Office of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC), the residential utility consumer advocate, represents the interests of 4.5 million Ohio households in proceedings before state and federal regulators and in the courts.

Members from Industry to Consumer Advocacy The SGCC launched today with founding  member companies that span key stakeholder groups, including utilities, technology  and consumer electronics companies, retailers, and consumer advocates.

•     Magnolia/Best Buy

•     Control4

•     Ember

•     General Electric (GE)

•     GridWise Alliance (GWA)

•     IBM

•     NREL (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

•     Ohio Consumers’ Counsel (OCC)

•     Silver Spring Networks (SSN)

Additionally the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition (www.drsgcoalition.org) and the Future of Privacy Forum (http://www.futureofprivacy.org/) have  joined as affiliate members, contributing resources to the SGCC.

For more information about the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative,  visit  www.smartgridcc.org.

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