'

Consumers, utilities both taking it slow with smart grid

New research suggests smart grid will take longer to roll out than you might expect.

There's been plenty o' news this week related to the smart grid, but perhaps the most illuminating tidbits for me have to do with perceptions from both sides of the fences -- energy consumers and utility executives -- on what exactly it will be good for. And when.

I just wrote about the utility side of the equation this morning over on my GreenTech Pastures blogs, which feature some information by two separate surveys that have been released by Oracle and Microsoft, respectively. From their standpoint, the smart grid will ultimately help with operational efficiency, but only about 20 percent of utilities today are actually in the middle of a system-wide smart grid rollout. About half or them are piloting or testing pieces with discrete applications. Kind of makes you wonder exactly how that $4.5 billion that has been earmarked by the Obama administration is being spent, no?

In that respect they are ahead of consumers, according to a survey released this week by General Electric (one of the biggest potential players in the smart meter and smart appliance world). GE's poll found that only about 20 percent of consumers today are familiar with the term "smart grid," although they do think it's time to update the nation's electricity distribution system. GE survey respondents who DID know the term thought of it in a positive way, believe that the smart grid could help us make more educated decisions about power consumption. The new Smart Grid Consumer Coalition was formed this week to help prod things along in terms of education, research and awareness.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com