When the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative first conducted a survey in 2011 asking participants whether they had heard the terms "smart grid" or "smart meter," only about half said yes. 

Two years later, not much has changed. In the fourth iteration of the group’s annual survey of consumers seeking to assess to understand what participants know and how they feel about grid modernization, the numbers have essentially flatlined.

At first glance, the numbers may seem dismal. But the Consumer Pulse Survey has repeatedly found that when participants are familiar with the concepts of smart grid, smart meters and dynamic pricing, their feelings are generally favorable.

The general lack of understanding could mean that the industry is asking the wrong questions. SGCC also asked consumers whether they would pay more for reliability or for higher levels of renewable penetration. The number of participants who said they would pay more for both was higher than many might expect. 

Perhaps the issue is not whether people know, or even like, nebulous terms such as "smart grid," but rather whether they value the services and energy mix that a smarter grid would enable. According to the SGCC’s most recent survey, the needle is starting to point to yes.