Guest writer Pieter Coetzee hit the nail on the head this week in his article, The Smart Step into the Future for Energy Utilities. He points out that by empowering people to better understand how and when energy is used, utilities can master the most cost-effective, low-carbon and secure energy resource available – energy efficiency.
Utilities have been responding to energy efficiency goals by installing smart technologies and rolling out demand response programmes with the aim of enhancing resource efficiency.
But it seems they need to dig deeper…and not necessarily too deep into their pockets which are emptying at a rapid rate as they attempt to keep up with the latest innovations.
Opower’s recent pilot programme in the US proves that utilities may be spending far too much on residential demand response programmes. [Customer Behaviour (not incentives) Can Shave Peak Demand.] Apparently, customers don’t need to be financially compensated for saving energy. It would seem that generally, consumers are happy to conserve energy when asked via “clear and actionable messages”. At Engerati, we believe this makes complete sense since, at the end of the day, a lower utility bill is proof to the consumer that energy saving measures are indeed paying off.
Opower’s Behavioural Demand Response Programme shows that customers are responding positively to real-time, personalized consumption data.
This builds onto this week’s white paper from the same company, “The Value of the Engaged Energy Consumer” which was released during the European Utility Week event. The report demonstrates that utilities can increase the return on their customer relationships by up to 55% and add an increment of up to €40 annually to their bottom line for every household they engage with. [Customers Hold The Key To Transforming The European Utility Business Model.]
What struck me as important was that through appropriate customer engagement technologies and strategies, utilities have the ability to improve energy efficiency numbers significantly. Incentives could well be a thing of the past- something I don’t think was ever meant to be sustainable.
It is clear that customers want a more personalised (and simplistic) level of communication with their power providers and the only way that utilities can respond to this need is by replacing outdated device focused demand response programmes and instead install smarter technology and more innovative solutions.
More from Engerati
Energy efficiency measures like insulation, new furnaces, smart appliances and efficient lighting do pay off for building owners. Chicago-based group Elevate Energy is helping landlords to realise the benefits of having an energy efficient building.
A new study from VaasaETT for the Norwegian Water Resources and Energy Directorate (NVE) suggests that savings of at least 6% per year would be realistic for households in that country with electric heating and no automation.
In a recent funding round the US Department of Energy awarded Alstom US$1.2 million for the development of a community microgrid at Philadelphia’s Navy Yard – the 1,200 acre former naval shipyard now a modern business campus providing office space to more than 145 companies in the office, industrial and R&D sectors.
Con Edison is offering incentives increased by over 300% for energy storage for demand management. The current incentives for both thermal and battery storage are $600/kW. The revised incentives are $2,600/kW for thermal storage and $2,100/kW for battery storage.
Uncertainty in the energy industry is forcing utilities to adopt innovative and flexible solutions which are unique to their businesses. A holistic view will enable utilities to exploit market opportunities at a time of uncertainty, as well as help them to balance many different stakeholder expectations while having the flexibility to alter tactics as opportunities and circumstances change.