Sydney, Australia --- (METERING.COM) --- November 28, 2012 - Over the past year there has been significant progress in generating solid consumer engagement in Australia but there is still a gulf in awareness and knowledge of the impact of energy consumption behavior that utilities need to bridge in order to engage consumers and recruit their help in alleviating stresses on the grid, according to a new report from Smart Grid Australia.

The second report from the organization’s Consumer Working Group, it says that Australians are changing the way they use energy. However, although overall usage is actually declining, the ‘always on’ culture means that peak demand is still increasing. This in turn is placing strain on the country’s electricity infrastructure, and to maintain consumer expectations for reliable power on demand,substantial investment is required.

Thus, now is a time for further action, the report continues. In order to continue the forward momentum, effective education and engagement approaches remain key challenges requiring a focus on consumers, with creative thinking and targeted attention on the key aspects of smart grid programs that appeal to consumers.

The report, Unlocking Consumer Values: Actionable insights for the Australian energy industry, is intended as a follow up to the first report with the aim to understand what has already been achieved and to facilitate discussion on how best to engage consumers and enlist their help in realizing the full potential benefits of the country’s smart grid investment.

The report identifies seven key elements that influence consumer uptake and interest – cost, convenience, control, capability,confidence, cooperation, and cachet. Of these, based on research on the attitudes and values of consumers conducted across Australia during 2012,cost is the most influential, followed by convenience, control and confidence.These elements should form the backbone of messaging to consumers, with the other aspects fleshing out the offer and providing additional appeal.

The five key recommendations that emerge are:

  • Engage consumers early and often in the process and support with continued,consistent and cooperative education.
  • Provide accurate and easily understandable information to consumers on the issues affecting them through various channels.
  • Differentiate between smart grid and smart meter initiatives
  • Utilize an appropriate combination of the key factors that matter to consumers when creating messaging and product bundles.
  • Collaborate with other participants in Australia, and continue to monitor and participate in global forums.