Primen's recent online survey of 1,301 households in the United States and Canada finds that distributed energy (DE) may be on its way to a residence near you.

In a report titled, “Residential Distributed Energy: Customer Views and Outlook,” which examines the market for residential on-site generation, the energy market intelligence company found that from April 2003 to March 2004, nearly one million on-site generators were sold to U.S. households for either their primary residences or vacation homes. While only 6% of U.S. households currently have an on-site generator, most of which are manual-start, portable models that are only used during power outages, a growing number of homeowners are purchasing permanently mounted, automatic systems.

Nicholas Lenssen, Primen's senior director, says residential baseload on-site generation might not be as hard a sell as once thought. “Given that some households are already paying $5,000 or more for backup generation systems, the incremental cost of a baseload system may be less challenging to justify than supposed,” Lenssen says. One in six surveyed expressed high interest in an on-site power system that would fulfill the majority of their electrical requirements. The company found that many homeowners are willing to accept fairly lengthy paybacks for their investments in baseload DE: 36% of households with $100,000 in annual income and 22% of the general population said they would accept a payback period of five years or longer (Chart).