Contacting and interviewing residential electricity customers

by Sandra H. Berry

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This paper refers to research findings about regular household interviewing and concentrates on issues that are specific to surveys of electricity customers. As a part of the Electricity Rate Study which took place in Los Angeles, an experiment was designed to test effects of different rate structures on household electricity use. Personal interviews were conducted with some 2600 electricity customers. Eighteen hundred customers were then enrolled in 30-month electricity plans. Personal interviews were conducted followed by two additional telephone surveys at the midpoint and conclusion of the rate experiment. Three main subject areas are addressed: (1) choice of interview method (mail surveys, telephone surveys, and personal interviews), (2) obtaining customers' cooperation, and (3) choice of whether to use regular utility company staff and resources or a contractor to conduct the survey. Findings indicate the results using utility company staff were equal to those achieved by professional survey firms.

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