EcoPinion Consumer Survey Report No 31, “The Long Struggle Continues: Improving Service to Low-Income Customers in the Utility Sector,” relies on data from a survey of 1,000+ Americans (to yield 534 respondents with household incomes below $50,000). The survey was conducted in collaboration with members of the Low Income Energy Issues Forum, a diverse working group focused on innovations to make utility service more affordable.

Low-income consumers experience high levels of stress and anxiety as they provide for their families. For many, uncertainty is caused by the utility bill, the complexity of applying for energy assistance, and confusion about how to control costs. Utilities could offer tariffs that are less confusing and provide more certainty, facilitate energy assistance through social service agencies, and offer individualized communications regarding cost. Utilities can develop a new service model that focuses on individual consumers, is much less confusing, and could give greater control.

The findings point to ways that utilities can improve service to consumers with limited financial means. Consumers are focused on their daily budget and need more convenient choices. Utilities can create voluntary options with regard to many dimensions of service. Consumers will match these choices with their lifestyles.

Filed Under: Low Income, Smart Grid