The smart grid is creating numerous new opportunities for consumers to better manage their electricity use, save money, and reduce their carbon footprint. To take advantage of these new choices, consumers need to understand the programs and services being offered by their electricity providers. Realizing the importance of customer participation, many utilities are launching or enhancing customer engagement programs to raise awareness, boost customer satisfaction, and achieve their own goals for system performance.  

Helping to lead the way are many Recovery Act-funded Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) and Smart Grid Demonstration (SGDP) recipients. These projects provide an unprecedented opportunity to learn from utilities’ experiences implementing smart grid technologies and tools and engaging with customers. 

To leverage and capture the knowledge and experience gained by SGIG and SGDP projects, as well as other utilities deploying smart grid technologies and tools, the Department established the Smart Grid Customer Engagement Working Group in November 2012. During a nine-month, multi-stakeholder process that brought together utilities, vendors, regulators, consumer advocates, and other stakeholders from across the electricity industry, utilities discussed their experiences with creating effective customer programs. 

The resulting Voices of Experience | Insights on Smart Grid Customer Engagement guide, which was introduced today at the National Town Meeting on Demand Response and the Smart Grid, builds on the knowledge shared during a series of DOE-sponsored regional peer-to-peer workshops during which utilities discussed compelling smart grid topics and issues. The guide offers practical advice and lessons learned, and showcases creative, high-impact approaches.  Direct quotes from the utilities and links to supporting resources and tools appear throughout the guide. The guide is now available on and on the OE website.

The Voices of Experience guide is the latest example of OE’s ongoing efforts to make consumers more aware of smart grid opportunities and to help foster smart grid deployment. OE is also supporting several other consumer-focused initiatives, including the development of a voluntary code of conduct (VCC) to ensure the privacy of customer data enabled by smart grid technologies, and participation in the Power Over Energy campaign to empower consumers to make smart decisions about their electricity consumption. 

For additional information about national efforts to modernize the electric grid, visit the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability’s website and

Eric Lightner is Director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force in the Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability.