Snow and ice storms in the southern US as well as wildfires and blackouts in the West have brought energy consumption, reliability, and resourcing to the forefront. According to the article A Major Report Warns Climate Change Is Accelerating And Humans Must Cut Emissions Now, human-generated emissions of greenhouse gases are the overwhelming cause of the climate crisis.
For some time, utilities have been working on creating a reliable and renewably sourced infrastructure to reduce their carbon footprint and better serve their customers. But only recently are US residents understanding the urgency of the challenge and speaking up. In our report How do blackouts affect consumers’ attitudes toward renewables?, we discuss trends related to grid reliability and the effect on renewable-energy opinions. Customers are also curious about where their money is going and how grid investments will affect them personally, a topic we explored in our report How to communicate the benefits of the smart grid. Insights like these can help you better understand your customers and their perceptions so you can communicate with them in ways that resonate.
So how do your customers feel about renewable energy? To answer this question, we looked at data from the Claritas Energy Behavior Track, an annual online survey conducted in partnership with E Source of about 32,000 residential customers in the US on a variety of energy-related topics. This data powers the E Source US Residential Customer Insights Center, an easy-to-use online analysis tool that includes a full profile of demographic information (such as gender and age) and household characteristics (such as size of home). It allows utilities to gather information about their residential customers’ energy-usage behaviors and attitudes around energy consumption.
Perceptions of renewable energy
Respondents to our survey have a positive impression of clean energy and support the transition to renewable energy by their utility (figure 1). At least one-third of US respondents strongly agreed (rating a 9 or 10 out of 10) that:
- Renewable energy can replace fossil fuels
- Their utility should source more renewable energy
- Solar power will be an important source of electricity in the US in the future
Investing in a renewable future
While customers support utilities’ shift to renewable energy, they don’t believe their utility is making the right infrastructure upgrades to support a better, cleaner future. And many customers aren’t willing to pay more to support this transition (figure 2).