The rise of the consumer as advocate, reviewer and influencer has been a byproduct of technology, but has also influenced the shape and pace of technology development as communications have improved and online reviews have proliferated. The community of enthusiasts around a product or a sector now have an outsized voice – through social media and other formats – in influencing the outcomes of the products they care most about.

Capturing the interest and imagination of the enthusiast community is part of what the electrical generation sector wants to do when it comes to electric vehicles, Edison Electric Institute senior vice president Brian Wolff told Breaking Energy in a recent interview. “There have been a lot of fits and starts with regard to the EV movement,” Wolff said in discussing a new platform the association has launched called The Electric Generation.

“I don’t think there’s been anything out there that’s supported the enthusiasts’ community, that amplifies the voices of that community…and would allow them to share their successes and experiences,” Wolff said. His own experience in the early days of Silicon Valley were key in marking out the importance of enthusiastic user communities, Wolff said.

That goes hand-in-hand with a change in the perspective of the electric utility business, used to thinking of itself as not being in the transportation business and only recently – through smart meter installations – accustomed to being in two-way direct contact with its consumers.

“We have a responsibility to the industry to communicate about our fuel, which is no different from the others” like gasoline or ethanol or other biofuels and even natural gas for transport, Wolff said.