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Energy Program Participation Rates Are Increasing

New report finds only one-third actively participate in energy management programs, but strong growth rates are projected.

Utility-driven energy management programs are growing, although participation rates are still somewhat low, according to findings from “Trends in Energy and Demand Management,” a new energy industry survey conducted by the Association for Energy Services Professionals in partnership with Essense Partners.

The first of four parts of the report, focusing on energy management programs, was released on October 19. The additional research components — energy efficiency jobs, distributed energy resources (DER), and the Internet of Things (IoT) — will be released later this year.

Research for the report is largely based on two surveys that were conducted among more than 2,700 consumers and 164 professionals who work in utility programs.

The study found that only 31% of the consumers surveyed had participated in a utility-run energy management program.

However, over the last two years, 32% of energy-efficiency professionals reported that program participation rates had grown from 3% to 10%, and 21% of respondents reported that participation rates had grown by more than 10%. Those trends are expected to continue over the next two years.

In the survey, program sizes ranged from 140 participants to 50,000, with an average of 11,000. Participation rates ranged from 1% to 80%, with an average of 17%.

The survey found a disparity between the utility perspective of what is important to consumers and what consumers say is important to them. Only 18% of those polled on the utility side said that energy efficiency was “very important” to consumers, but 58% of the consumers said that energy efficiency was “very important.”

Utilities are working to redesign programs by increasing and improving communications with customers, making it easier to participate online, improving incentives, and reaching out more through social media.

Among the top factors generating growth in programs, according to consumers:

  • Improved value and incentives (61%)
  • Improved communications between consumers and utilities (46%)
  • Improved digital interfaces, tools and energy data (36%)
  • Redesign with consumer friendliness in mind (29%)

One surprising trend is that older consumers are more likely to participate in programs.

To view a copy of the first component of “Trends in Energy and Demand Management,” contact [email protected].

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