A company called Navigant Consulting recently performed a survey  of 1,084 consumers in the United States on topics such as smart grids, smart meters, smart thermostats, home energy management, and demand response.
As stated on its website, “Navigant (NYSE: NCI) is a specialized, global expert services firm dedicated to assisting clients in creating and protecting value in the face of critical business risks and opportunities.” In performing a survey of consumers regarding smart meters, smart thermostats, and related items, it is reasonable to conclude that such an undertaking was performed to provide feedback to corporate clients (the smart grid industry) on information relevant to the deployment and marketing of smart grid-related products.
What caught my interest in the recently published survey report was a chart showing the percentage of respondents who viewed smart grids and smart meters in a neutral or favorable light. Refer to the chart below.
It is apparent that there is inherent bias built into the above chart by noting the following:
- “Neutral” is graphed essentially as a “positive” percentage of favorability on the chart. So-called “neutral” respondents may very well include people who wouldn’t know a “smart meter” if they saw one.
- The scale on the above chart does not extend to 100%, so one visually gets the impression that a great majority of people have a favorable opinion of smart meters and the smart grid.
- There is no mention of any consumers being opposed to smart meters or the smart grid, but by inference, there must have been at least 30% of respondents who responded that they had an “unfavorable” opinion of both smart meters and the smart grid.
A “key finding” in the text of the published report was written as:
“Approximately two-thirds of consumers had a favorable or neutral view of smart grids and smart meters.”
An alternate perspective of the same data could have been reported as:
- Less than 20% of respondents had a very favorable opinion of smart meters and the smart grid.
- At least 30% of respondents had an unfavorable or negative opinion of smart meters and the smart grid.
- Approximately 60% of respondents had a negative or neutral view of smart meters and the smart grid.
Overall, and in reality, it would appear that the results of the survey were “mixed.” However, as you can see, if an executive official of a smart grid-related company only reviews the figure pictured above, there would appear to be no “evidence” of any opposition to smart meters and the smart grid. Thus, you can easily see how smart grid advocates are reassured by their own misleading reports.
 “Smart Grid Consumer Survey – Consumer Attitudes and Opinions about Smart Grids, Smart Meters, Smart Thermostats, Home Energy Management, and Demand Response,” Navigant Research, Published 4Q 2013. Navigant Research is a division of Navigant Consulting, Inc.
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