Survey Reveals Prepaid Energy Appeals to Consumers in a Connected World

Washington, DC … DEFG, a management consulting firm specializing in energy, worked with a broad array of market participants and public stakeholders through the Prepay Energy Working Group in late 2012 to survey 1,000 consumers. The national survey examined consumer perceptions and satisfaction levels with prepaid options in general, and took a more in depth look at consumer awareness and acceptance of prepaid electricity service. Many questions were taken from earlier EcoPinion surveys to identify response patterns, both similarities and differences, year to year.

“The latest survey findings confirm growing interest among consumers in prepaid electricity. There is real potential here for utilities and energy providers,” stated Cindy Boland O’Dwyer, VP of DEFG and lead for the Prepay Energy Working Group. “A significant number of Americans—38%—are interested in prepaid electricity, with younger adults, renters, and males being most open to the new service.”

Top line findings from EcoPinion No. 16 include:

  • Regarding “top two” features of a prepaid electricity option, consumers want: online and automatic payment capability, to select preferred communication channels, and to receive daily account updates.
  • Below are the most frequent responses when asked to select “top two” reasons for choosing prepaid electricity service:
    • “You want to reduce energy use and monitor closely” (30%)
    • “You want increased control over energy costs and budget” (28%)
    • “You prefer to pay for energy as you use it” (24%)
    • “You want to eliminate any surprises” (23%)
  • The responses are consistent with 2010 national survey, but with a substantial increase in “You want to reduce energy use and monitor closely” (17% in 2010 to 30% in 2012).
  • Majority of consumers (66%) prefer to go paperless (36% happy to go paperless, 30% comfortable going paperless provided there is online access to usage and payment history), while only 26% prefer a monthly paper summary.

“Prepaid electricity is currently gaining momentum in the U.S. as a ‘smart’ offering where usage and account balance information can be shared with customers in near real-time via a feedback loop—the service can serve as a consumer platform for both energy and budget management,” stated Jamie Wimberly, CEO of DEFG. “Consumers are seeking more relevant and timely information delivered through preferred communication channels. Prepaid electricity is clearly compatible with current behavioral trends and the future of customer transactions in the energy space.”

DEFG is a management consulting firm specializing in energy. We believe that customers are the future of energy. Since 2003, we have helped clients create value in a commodity marketplace. In our rapidly changing marketplace, customer engagement is key to success, and our clients learn to better engage with residential and commercial customers. These customers provide unique resources, reduce risks and increase revenue potential.

EcoAlign is the energy and environment marketing agency, and a wholly-owned affiliate of DEFG. We develop and execute marketing strategies for utilities, energy providers and vendors operating in the energy and environment space. We are uniquely suited to help companies achieve their business objectives.

EcoPinion consumer survey report: Download

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