Utility Insiders Say Prepay Could Save Energy, But Not Interested Themselves
If utility providers were able to offer a prepay option to customers, then such â€śreal-timeâ€ť consumer awareness of consumption and cost could lead to lower energy use, a scenario that more than half of industry insiders, 54%, could envision if a prepay utility plan were rolled out, according recent results from the “DEFG Prepay Industry Survey Summary.â€ť
The survey, conducted by management consulting firm DEFG, collected insights from about 600 industry stakeholders, and concluded that â€śparticipating consumers may reduce their usage — through better energy management and investments in energy efficiency — by about 15%.â€ť
The problem is, few of the industry insiders, when asked to think as consumers, are excited in such programs. In fact, over 50% said they would be “not at all interested” if a local utility offered them a prepay option.
However, their researchers called utility pre-pay the â€śkiller appâ€ť of the smart grid, with 17% of the respondents pointing to smart grid deployment as the key driver in the industry.
Other benefits on the industry side were risk-management gains that the plans could offer energy suppliers. â€śMost of the open responses emphasized the benefits of prepay to revenue (collections, cash flow, etc.) and risk management (bad debt management, credit risk, etc.) at the utility,â€ť according to the DEFG study.
The report concluded that a prepay utility plan may attract about 10% of the customer base as the preferred method of payment. Â Another 25% of respondents estimate that customers would be interested in the potential for a discount to service plans, if they opted to pay in advance. 17% of respondents agreed that consumers would see a benefit to prepay if the security deposit requirement was lifted and/ or other fees associated with traditional service avoided while 14% of respondents that that the key benefit would be a consumer preference for increased budget control.
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