As utilities move towards becoming service companies with more energy savvy consumers and decentralized generation, they are coming up with increasingly inventive offerings for their customers. In a first, certainly in the US if not in the world, National Grid is now offering its Rhode Island customers a solar marketplace in which they can compare the offerings of different pre-screened installers and select an appropriate financing package. [Rhode Island Customers Get “SolarWise” Thanks To Forward Thinking Power Sector] The programme forms part of National Grid’s initiative to grow its solar and as such, provides a win-win for both the company and its customers.
Although well intentioned and a good call at the time, the decision to include in-home displays with smart meters in the UK has come under increasing fire as these have been fast superseded by smartphone apps and other ‘smart’ forms of energy saving. Finally the government also appears to have recognized this by giving suppliers the opportunity to trial alternatives, which could be supplied in the place of the IHDs. [New UK IHD Policy- Supporting A Smarter Smart Meter Rollout] Besides improving the benefit-cost balance, which itself has also been questioned, the measure should open up new opportunities for utilities for innovation and customer engagement.
A growing trend in the industry is that of utilities taking shares in or buying out energy service companies as they look to providing offerings to their customers or to the future of their business. Latest up is Southern Company’s acquisition of PowerSecure International, which provides a range of solutions, including microgrids. Distributed products for large customers are in Southern Company’s sights but the opportunities will be much wider. [Southern Company Looks To Microgrids]
The move to a smart city is one that will change the face of any city inexorably, whatever the path taken to get there, which will vary from one city not another. Is your city ready for the task? Find out some of the things that need to be done and get inspired with case studies from cities that have taken actions in the Smart Cities Readiness Guide now available online. [Smart Cities Readiness at the Touch of a Key]
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