Democracies and automobile windshields both work a whole lot better when they’re transparent, and the same appears to be true for utility bills. One...

Democracies and automobile windshields both work a whole lot better when they’re transparent, and the same appears to be true for utility bills.

One of the key arguments in favor of smart electricity meters is that they give users greater insights into how much energy they’re using, when they’re using it most and what uses account for the most consumption. That knowledge, advanced metering proponents say, makes it easier for electricity customers to find ways to control their utility spending by making their energy habits more efficient.

Greater efficiency and lower bills, it seems, should lead to happier customers. And that’s apparently the case for utility business customers who have smart meters.

A survey of just over 24,000 US utility business customers found there’s a correlation between smart-meter usage and utility satisfaction. According to the annual Electric Utility Business Customer Satisfaction Study conducted by J.D. Power and Associates, businesses that have smart meters — 16 percent of those surveyed — have satisfaction scores that average 85 points higher than those that don’t.

Simply knowing that their electricity companies are implementing smart-meter and smart-grid improvements somehow makes business customers more likely to express satisfaction with their utility, the survey found. Compared to businesses that are unaware of their utilities’ smart-meter and smart-grid efforts, those familiar with what their power providers are doing report average satisfaction levels that are 79 points higher.

This year’s utility survey queried businesses served by more than 90 different utilities across the US. Satisfaction ratings were based on customers’ perceptions of power quality and reliability, billing and payment, corporate citizenship, price; communications and customer service.

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