Mark Mccaffrey Boulder July 14, 2008

All:

Our local energy provider, Xcel Energy, has chosen Boulder, Colorado to be the first Smart Grid City in the universe... or at least as far as we know. Boulder is an early adopter type of town (more Prius per capita but also more SUVs per capita, the first carbon tax anywhere but +40,000 people driving alone into town everyday) but one thing is clear: people are as generally clueless about where their electricity comes from, how it is generated, how the grid works, what peak load and the impact of daily/seasonal demand is as they are anywhere. One would think that knowing the basics of the electrical grid would be important information for a "smart grid" to operate effectively and efficiently. But knowledge doesn't necessarily lead to action or behavior change. What I'm looking for is good solid research on attitudes and perspections people have about the electricity they use, especially in terms of whether understanding the big picture about electrical energy generation (and impact on the environment/climate) helps in conservation efforts and behavioral change or not. I've searched around and not found much but may be looking in the wrong place. I suspect utilities have done market research on how awareness relates to conservation, but some good academic journal articles are what I'm looking for. Can anyone help?

Mark McCaffrey
CIRES - CU
Boulder
303.735.3155