Utility Industry Challenges Part 3: Customers Look to Utilities for Answers

In the first and second blog post of this series, I wrote of five trends driving complexity for utilities and their customers, and why customer satisfaction and engagement is more important than ever. In this third and final post of the series, I want to address how the utility-customer relationship is changing. Accenture’s 2014 study on energy consumers states that more than 70 percent of customers say they want their energy providers to do more than just send them a bill every month – they want an engaged, trusted advisor. Conserving energy is increasingly top-of-mind for utility customers in both the residential and commercial sectors. Smart & Wi-Fi-enabled thermostats, home energy management systems (HEMS) and building energy management systems (EMS) are giving residential and...

EMS: ROI Achieved Through People, Process, and Technology

While a solid 90 percent of industry professionals understand the value in EMS trend/telemetry data, just 38 percent can confidently say they’re achieving the expected ROI. Those are among the findings revealed by The 2015 Ecova Industry Survey: The Value of Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Trend Telemetry Data, and they shed some light on an all-too-common breakdown among people, process, and technology in the months ensuing an EMS rollout. The initial ROI on an EMS system is typically straightforward and realized in as little as 18 months after implementation. Enterprises enjoy an initial efficiency boost, but over time the monitoring and oversight of the system degrades; set points are manually adjusted, schedules are overridden, and soon, the entire site portfolio is heating,...

Are You Overpaying? Calculate the Cost of Managing Utility Bills In-House

Multi-site companies with 100 or more locations generate a lot of bills for their accounts payable teams to manage. With the large volume of bills pouring in, it often means that utility bills get treated just like any other bill…but they are not. Utility bills are complex. Unlike other payables, utility bills typically lack purchase orders, require manual GL mapping, and vary greatly from one provider to the next, with varying bill systems, bill periods, and bill level detail. These factors add up to a time consuming, resource intensive payable, and simply paying the bills isn’t enough. Effective bill processing and data management are needed to identify billing errors, including those caused by estimated bills, overlapping service dates, incorrect meter reads, and more. While internal...

EMS: A Big Appetite For Open Systems

One of the biggest changes we observed when analyzing results of the 2015 Ecova Industry Survey: The Value of Energy Management Systems (EMS) and Trend Telemetry Data was a profound switch in the purchase criterion for EMS. In 2015, integration overtook cost as the main consideration for purchasing an EMS, with 24 percent citing integration as their primary purchase concern. That’s double the number of executives who expressed concern about integration in the 2013 study. Asked which vendors supplied their EMS, respondents cited the same suppliers identified in 2013, with one considerable exception. This year, Tridium joined the ranks of Johnson Controls, Honeywell, Trane, and Siemens/Site Controls on the top five list – and it wasn’t even an option on the survey; Tridium gained its top...

The Time is Ripe for Midstream Commercial Lighting Program Design

Over the past several years, we’ve seen dramatic and exciting changes in lighting technologies and applications. Utilities are seeing a surge in availability, competitive pricing, and market demand for high-efficient lighting like never before. Residential programs, widely known for their agile program design, are enjoying mass participation in their upstream retail promotions with low-cost, high-quality LEDs. Meanwhile, commercial programs are slowly updating their prescriptive paper applications in an effort to maintain the pace of quickly changing lighting market. During our recent webinar, “Midstream Solutions for Commercial Programs,” we discussed the challenge of staying current on the technical applications and volatile prices of LED products as well as a solution to better engage...