Smart grids (SGs) are being deployed as a transformational technology in energy transitions. However, negative consumer responses to both smart meters and new pricing systems indicate that building public acceptance of these transitions is critically important. Deliberative Pollings (DPs) offer the potential to effectively integrate public perceptions into energy transition decision-making. Most deliberative governance studies focus on western countries and very few examine the Asian context. This paper presents an exploratory study of undergraduate students’ perceptions of dynamic pricing options in two pilot DPs conducted in the cities of Guangzhou and Kyoto. The study indicates that deliberative processes yield mixed outcomes in changing participants’ choice of pricing options. While many welcomed new pricing options, a significant number supported status quo options. Second, the normative mechanisms and outcomes of deliberative participation seem to apply in the Asian context. DP appears to enhance participants’ acceptance of complex and sophisticated pricing options. Dialogic processes enhanced the participants’ ability to understand complex issues and weigh up trade-offs when comparing options. Third, national level contextual differences associated with public distrust and familiarity with market logic may explain the differences in responses between Chinese and Japanese participants. We argue that complex and controversial energy decision-making needs to be supported by deliberative participatory processes to enable citizens to make informed and considered choices.

Research Paper