Millennials inspire a lot of internet writing. Considered anyone born from the early 80s to the late 90s, millennials make up a pretty big group of individuals to lay any kind of generalization on, but that’s exactly what many online articles and blogs tend to do. They take an abstract quality, like being self-focused, and label the entire generation with it, including opinions on whether that quality is good or bad. What they ignore are the actual effects these qualities, if proven true, can have on business, the economy, and the world as a whole.
A generalization we can back up with data, however, is that millennials are the most environmentally-focused generation ever. They’re demanding sustainability in all aspects of life, from the clothes they wear to the cars they drive—and it’s already having a widespread effect on the energy industry.
Take canned soup as a fascinating example of the power millennials have to shift a market. Soup sales were in decline, but once that soup was placed on the grocery store shelves in biodegradable cartons, the downward trend was reversed. It turns out that 75% of millennials prefer their soup in paper cartons over aluminum cans. That’s the influence that our largest living generation can have on an industry—and now they’ve set their sights on shifting towards clean and green when it comes to their energy consumption.
Millennials and Their Push for Sustainable Policies
Millennials, in terms of their views on the environment and U.S. policies, are indisputably the greenest generation to date, ideologically focused on developing improved sustainability across many sectors. Consider these insights from a Pew Research study on generational gaps in thinking:
- 71% of millennials said America’s energy policy should focus on developing alternative sources of power like solar, wind, and hydrogen technology. That’s compared to just 25% who believe we should be expanding the exploration and production of older, less efficient fossil fuels like coal and oil.
- When asked whether stricter environmental laws and regulations were worth the potential economic cost to businesses, 57% of millennials said yes—the largest percentage of any generation surveyed.
- 65% also favored spending more federal dollars on bus, rail, and subway systems, and 69% approved of offering consumers government tax incentives for buying hybrid or electric vehicles.
In all of these statistics, millennials had higher percentages than any previous generation. This is fascinating information because it means that not only do millennials want to go green and live more sustainably, they also expect that institutions will move in that direction as well. This generation isn’t just psyched when they can buy fair trade coffee in a biodegradable container, they also want to be able to hop on public transportation to take them home from the grocery store, reusable shopping bag in hand. It’s both a personal commitment to going green and an expectation that government and businesses will help provide them with the means to do so.
The Millennial Impact on Energy Sources
And that brings us to the energy industry. While the government makes regulations regarding consumer safety and protection from unfair practices, corporations also play an important role in what direction the industry moves–whether it’s toward fossil fuels or renewables.
In 2015, total investment in the U.S. energy sector was roughly $280 billion, coming from a variety of sources like coal, oil, natural gas, nuclear power, and renewable energy, making the U.S. one of the world’s largest consumers of power. And now that most millennials are paying their own electric bills, we’re going to see changes in how this industry operates. Why? All you have to do is look at those stats I laid out earlier. Millennials make it clear that they don’t just want to do their part for the environment, they want the government and corporations to take a stand as well.
Energy suppliers are already jumping on board with green technologies that appeal to millennials. A restructuring of the industry has led to competition from third party energy suppliers who have set themselves apart by offering electricity from renewable sources. And, as we saw in the boxed soup example, more sustainable offerings can have a potent effect on sales.
Millennials, Renewable Energy, and the Future of Power As We Know It
The option to buy renewable electricity from an energy supplier is now available to over half of all energy consumers in the U.S., and anyone can purchase these renewable energy credits (RECs)! That’s a big draw for millennials—and may even be largely attributed to them. Just take a look at their energy preferences:
- A recent Nielsen study found that millennials were the generation most willing to pay extra for sustainable goods or offerings. That’s part of the reason we’ve seen a huge uptick in the number of farmer’s markets in the past 13 years, from 3,700 in 2004 to 8,200 by 2014. Food grown in the same area in which it’s consumed leaves a much smaller carbon footprint as it uses less energy to transport it to a consumer, and that’s a perfect example of the sustainability that millennials keep in mind.
- According to Accenture, more than half of all millennials said they would be likely to install residential solar panels in the next five years. Yes, we should take that with a grain of salt since it’s a prediction of hypothetical events several years in the future, however, it does highlight that they’re serious about using new, sustainable technology if it’s available to them.
- The same research from Accenture found that after learning about distributed energy resource products for home use, like solar panels and large-scale batteries, 87% of millennials were likely to at least consider them. These energy sources include any small-scale power generation that is produced close to where the electricity is used, rather than at a power plant.
- 61% surveyed also responded that they were likely to sign up for a home energy management system in the next five years. These systems are used to monitor, analyze, and even control energy consumption within a home. Combined with the stats on solar panels and distributed energy sources, this suggests that millennials are going to be doing everything they can to lighten their energy consumption, or shift it to renewable sources.
Seeing the trend? Millennials want green energy and sustainability—and they’re willing to pay more for it. That may be why many are turning to third party energy suppliers that offer the Renewable Energy Credits I mentioned above. RECs have proven to play a large part in the future of the energy industry where millennials are concerned.
Millennials aren’t shy about putting their money where their mouth is when it comes to sustainable products and services, and third party suppliers are taking note of that. It’s going to continue to have an effect on the energy industry as they learn how best to appeal to this generation.
But, millennials aren’t the only ones looking for options when it comes to renewable energy. Liberty Power is a great choice for anyone, from Baby Boomers to Gen Xers, seeking green options, friendly customer service, and stable rates. Contact us today to learn more about our fixed rate prices and options for reusable energy credits. After all, the environment is everyone’s responsibility.