Stanford Social Innovation Review : Informing and inspiring leaders of social change

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Civil Society

The Power of Being Seen

People are more apt to behave in socially responsible ways when they think others take notice.

 

To help stabilize the electrical grid in their area, some customers of Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) have agreed to give up control over their air conditioners. PG&E, through its SmartAC program, installs a radio-activated switch on the customers’ thermostats, and that device adjusts air-conditioner use at times of peak demand for electricity. This past summer, the program helped avert three potential brownout or blackout events. To attract volunteers, the utility offers a small monetary...


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