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Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative: Spotlight on Low-Income Consumers

Green products are often positioned as luxury items, the choice of affluent consumers who view environmentalism as an expression of personal style. The environmental attitudes of lower-income consumers are not commonly discussed in green-marketing circles. That’s why this new study by the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative, an industry group whose members include electric-utility companies and vendors of technology used to create “smart” power grids, is interesting. It focuses on low-income consumers, a group in which households of one or two people have total household income of no more than $20,000-30,000 for households with three or four people. The study found that energy efficiency is as important to low-income consumers as to the general population. It also found that low-income consumers’ environmental attitudes align fairly closely with those of the general population. Most low-income consumers (72%) believe that global warming is real, and that saving energy helps the environment (82%). Eighty percent report that they try to minimize their impact on the environment through daily actions. A quarter of the low-income consumers surveyed for the study felt that the potential benefits of smart power grids — including preventing power outages, obtaining near real-time information on their energy use, and making it easier to connect renewable energy sources to the grid — were important enough that they would be willing to pay more for them.

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