Wednesday, November 15, 2023
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Mixed Methods Research into DER Ownership and Engagement
Session ID
E2 - Seeing Things in a Different Way — New Metrics and Resources
Laura Cornish Talia Perluss

As grid flexibility becomes a greater priority, utilities and technology providers are increasingly focusing on the role that residential distributed energy resources (DERs) can play in this. To better understand DER owners’ attitudes and knowledge about DER devices and DER programs, we conducted a series of qualitative focus groups and a nationally representative survey (N = 991). Between October and December 2022, a total of 22 people took part in the focus groups. These participants owned solar panels, smart thermostats, or electric vehicles, or were enrolled in either time-of-use (TOU) or manual demand response (DR) programs. The focus groups revealed that specific motivations, such as environmentalism and comfort, technology adoption styles, whether individuals are technophobes or early adopters, and individuals' trust in their utilities are all important factors influencing DER adoption. Additionally, for participants who had participated in demand response programs, financial or other material incentives were the primary factors motivating their participation, with most respondents not fully understanding the sustainability or grid benefits of these programs. Survey results reinforced the importance of trust and utility attitudes to DER program participation, with higher levels of both being related to higher participation in DER programs. However, while focus group participants reported program incentives to be their primary reason for participating in demand response, across both demand response and time of use programs, survey respondents most frequently reported bill and energy savings to be benefits of program participation. Finally, we find that across a range of messaging frames providing detail on the benefits of DR programs can increase participants’ interest in them.

Supporting Document 1