Trust and Utilities

The utility relationship with customers is evolving into uncharted territory. Grid modernization technology is changing how they interact with electricity. How data is managed and kept private is beginning to change in the wake of these technological advances, and the biggest utilities (and those looking to demonstrate innovation) want to evolve beyond a culture of compliance, into a culture of trust.

With a primary focus on regulators, utilities can’t afford to overlook consumer opinion and expectations for how their information is used, stored and secured. Reputational damage has already occurred for some utilities in articles about smart meter health concerns and fires. Further consumer backlash will invite increased regulatory scrutiny. Understanding key stakeholders and increasing trust will proactively ease the regulatory burden.

According to Edelman’s “Privacy & Security: The New Drivers of Brand, Reputation and Action Global Insights 2012,” security and privacy are more important to people than ever before, and businesses need to be more accountable for managing the information they collect.  In fact, 85 percent say that businesses need to take data security and privacy more seriously.

In my recent article for Electric Light & Power, I elaborated on the path for electric utilities to enhance communication and trust with customers. The energy industry is loath to think in these terms but “smart grid” technologies are about to change the customer dynamic. Take a look and share your thoughts with us.