National Grid: Customers Need to Care about Efficiency

How utilities can make any customer care about efficiency

GreenBiz, July 12, 2013

Most people don’t realize it, but their relationship with electricity is odd.

Ed White, vice president of customer and business strategy for National Grid US, summed it up in a recent interview by relating a vignette from a colleague with a 13-year-old son. The boy ran from the house one day shouting, “We don’t have Internet. We don’t have Internet!” It turns out there was a power outage. But it wasn’t the darkening room or warming refrigerator that caught the teen’s attention. He’d been denied entry to cyberspace.

The story illustrates the strange world of the electric utility. They sell a product that everyone relies on more and more, but hardly notices. Consumers are far more aware of their relationship with the information-delivering Internet than the electron-delivering power grid.

This has to change if the U.S. is to achieve its energy efficiency goals. Saving energy requires that customers pay attention. Most of us would rather not. It’s going to take innovation and risk-taking on the part of the utility industry to engage the consumer.

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