David Groarke is a Senior Analyst at GTM Research. You can follow him on Twitter @groarke. You can also learn more about his (and his colleagues') smart grid market research at www.gtmresearch.com.
At Tuesday’s State of the Union Address, President Obama devoted much time in his address to clean technology, infrastructure upgrades and initiatives to tackle climate change. Of course, this is all great news for smart grid and related technologies, however, what surprised many was Obama’s reference to “self-healing power grids” – a term not widely used outside the power industry.
“Ask any CEO where they’d rather locate and hire: a country with deteriorating roads and bridges, or one with high-speed rail and internet; high-tech schools, self-healing power grids, said Obama. "The CEO of Siemens America -- a company that brought hundreds of new jobs to North Carolina -- said that if we upgrade our infrastructure, they’ll bring even more jobs. And that’s the attitude of a lot of companies all around the world. And I know you want these job-creating projects in your district. I’ve seen all those ribbon-cuttings.”
The term "self-healing grid" refers to the ability for the grid to anticipate, respond and to isolate damage that could speed recovery during the time of natural disasters and severe weather. The moment he mentioned self-healing grids, we at GTM Research took to Twitter to gauge public reaction.
What we found were literally hundreds of tweets that ran the gamut of confusion, negative reactions and some support. What this small exercise pointed to overwhelmingly, however, was a broader customer engagement issue. It’s great news that Obama is willing talk about smart grid during an event like the State of the Union and, specifically, to mention solutions such as self-healing power grids. However, at the same time, we need to balance this with proactive customer engagement. As the smart grid becomes more mainstream and impacts customer choices, the ways that customers consume energy and engage with their providers are going to be become a pressing area to address.
Tweets ranged from those having little to no understanding (understandably)...
…to some negative reaction...
…to the completely irreverent.
Encouragingly, however, there were positive comments peppered throughout the real-time reactions, as well.