As part of its Smart Grid Investment Grant, Minnesota Power is conducting a Consumer Behavior Study Plan (CBSP) designed to answer research questions about residential customers’ interest in, use of, and benefits derived from higher resolution feedback on electricity consumption (such as usage data for each individual day or hour). The study is also exploring the customer experience with the tools that provide this information. These questions are of interest because the advanced metering infrastructure associated with a smart grid enables higher resolution usage information for utility customers, which has the potential to better inform them about their energy consumption and help them refine their usage choices. However, this infrastructure comes at a cost, so Minnesota Power is interested to know whether customers derive energy savings or other benefits from higher resolution data. This aspect of the study complements the system’s operational benefits and insights gained from the broader grant activities.
The CBSP, branded as the Power of One® Choice Pilot, began in the spring of 2012 and is being implemented in the geography designated by the grant, the Duluth/Hermantown area. This report presents the results of the pilot through its first year. A second phase of the pilot will test consumer interest and response to time-of-day rates with critical peak pricing.