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Utilities Expect to Spend More on Efficiency

Nine out of ten utility executives expect that budgets for energy efficiency resources will increase by at least ten percent in 2011, according to a survey.

The survey by Comverge, a vendor of energy management programs, found that 92 percent of utility executives predict an increase of ten percent or more, while 22 percent of those surveyed expect an increase of 20 percent or more.

When asked to identify the critical features of the next wave of energy management systems, 25 percent cited support for open standards, 20 percent said the ability to measure and verify results, and 19 percent said control and automation capabilities.
Accessibility and portability was less popular, with eight percent, and single user interfaces only received three percent.

Only one percent of respondents believed that smart grids will start to offer measureable benefits within one to three years – compared to 27 percent in a similar Comverge story last March.

Over half of respondents said that consumer education and awareness are by far the largest consumer barrier to implementing the smart grid. Asked to identify the greatest potential barrier to their utility’s own smart grid plans, 29 percent said aginig infrastructure and 15 percent said instituting variable and dynamic pricing programs.

Comverge said the results show the way for the development of energy management solutions, not only for utilities but also for their commercial and industrial customers.

“It’s not surprising to see budgets increasing for energy efficiency programs as they provide the industry’s most proven approach to managing energy usage,” said president and CEO R. Blake Young.  “In fact, the increasing importance placed on energy efficiency is part of a broader shift in focus from supply to demand side technologies.

“While this survey shows there is still uncertainty around some aspects of the smart grid, I can say with confidence that 2011 will be another huge year for energy efficiency and related programs like demand response.”

Picture credit: pgegreenenergy

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