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Study Finds Consumers Ready to Pay for Electrical Grid Upgrades

smartgridsurvey2Fifty-seven percent of Americans agree that the nation’s electrical grid infrastructure should be upgraded to support new generation and further deployment of alternative energy technologies, according to a new study. In light of the findings, solution providers already have energy optimization tools under development that are smart-grid ready to help businesses cut their electrical energy costs.

The survey also finds that 70 percent of Green Elite respondents, those identified as participants in sustainability and environmental activities, believe significant upgrades to the nation’s electrical grid is necessary to meet electricity demand over the next five years.

A key finding of the 2009 Green Power Progress Survey: A Study of Consumer Demand for Green Power Infrastructure, Renewable Energy & Technologies, conducted by Penn, Schoen & Berland Associates and Burson-Marsteller, indicates that there is a big gap between what Americans are willing to pay for green power and what they think it costs.

Respondents say they are willing to pay 15 percent more ($18/month, based on the average electricity bill) than what they pay today for energy that comes from alternative sources. Yet, they believe green energy is at least 50 percent more ($62/month) expensive than what they currently pay.

These findings reveal a $40+ Green Power Pricing and Perception Gap existing among consumers, with a smaller $29 gap for Green Elite respondents, according to Burson-Marsteller.

The survey also finds that Americans are willing to pay a onetime fee of $50 to install necessary hardware in their homes and service charges of $10 per month for smart grid and other green technology solutions.

Other key findings show that seven out of 10 Americans support federal stimulus funds for the development of alternative energy technologies, and six in 10 Americans are likely to support increased government investment in smart-grid technology.

Although many smart-grid demos have focused on residential and commercial building applications, solution providers are moving ahead with smart-grid technologies for their industrial customers to help them cut their energy costs.

As an example, Rockwell Automation says its new portfolio of smart-grid ready energy optimization tools could help companies save up to $6 billion a year, or about ten percent of the total U.S. industrial electrical energy costs, by leveraging smart-grid initiatives with existing technologies.

These plant-wide energy optimization tools that create an integrated industrial energy management system will allow manufacturers to perform real-time load-balancing of their industrial processes, bring renewable energy sources online and execute demand response strategies connected to the smart grid, according to Rockwell Automation.

In addition, the advanced integration will help manufacturers to view, control and optimize plant-wide energy use and be smart-grid ready, said the company. With the new solution, manufacturers can gain real-time insight into their energy usage from machine-to-machine and across production lines as well as add their actual energy use to their bill of materials or any other production records.

Rockwell says this energy “greenprint” by individual loads, machines and production lines will enable manufacturers to more effectively manage peak demand for the plant, predict the overall impact of production changes on energy use, and automate production for optimal energy consumption across the enterprise. It also allows the plant-floor energy use data to be networked into enterprise business systems and connected to suppliers and utility companies.

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