The utility industry is more complex than ever. Gone are the simple, two way transactions—the utility generates and delivers power, and the customer pays for it. Today, new enabling technologies, such as renewables and distributed generation, are dramatically impacting the way utilities do business. Customer decisions—both residential and commercial—are also being influenced by technologies that provide data-driven analytics, from remote analytics to two-way communicating thermostats. And of course, there is increasing pressure from regulators and consumers for utilities to add clean power to their fundamental charter and to meet energy savings targets.
CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND ENGAGEMENT
With the pressure to meet these increased demands, a strong utility-customer relationship is more important than ever. Utilities need a deep understanding of how their commercial customers are using energy so they can focus on the industries and projects that will offer the deepest energy savings. Meanwhile, commercial customers need to see the utility as a trusted adviser for more efficiently using the energy that is delivered.
“RIGHT SIZING” RECOMMENDATIONS FOR COMMERCIAL CUSTOMERS
Ecova is a trusted partner to dozens of utilities as we work to drive energy savings through our energy efficiency programs. Our newest tool to drive adoption of energy efficiency programs among the SMB market is the Building Analytics Module on the Ecova Efficiency Platform. The module analyzes utility data to identify customers with high savings opportunities. Rather than providing generalized information, the module takes building-specific data and compares it to industry benchmarks, so the business can see how it is performing against its peers. Disaggregating consumption data reveals what specific, actionable energy efficiency opportunities are available.
Ecova experts then engage directly with identified customers on behalf of the utility and provide personalized recommendations to drive the greatest savings, as well as facilitate the installation of qualified equipment through local contractor management and incentives. Initial projects are augmented over time as the relationship with the customer progresses and more is learned about the building and its operations through the module.
Using sophisticated analytics, utilities can leverage the data provided by the Building Analytics Module to increase program participation and personalization—capturing customer loyalty and persistent energy savings in the process. Most energy efficiency programs are designed with the assumption that the customer is going to replace their equipment at some point and the program needs to encourage them to choose a more efficient replacement. The next generation of programs will need to help customers see the energy and cost saving opportunities they don’t currently recognize. Analytics—from benchmarking to energy usage disaggregation—is a cost-effective tool for utilities to identify and communicate these previously hidden opportunities.
ACTIONABLE DATA LEADS CUSTOMERS TO SAVINGS
Energy management programs help utilities build informed relationships with their customers, streamlining customer access to the most cost-effective combination of services. JD Power’s studyshowed that any kind of customer outreach improves the customer’s perception of their utility—regardless of whether or not the customer acts on the information provided. The conversation can start with relatively simple engagement and conservation strategies—such as energy efficiency improvements or time of use (TOU) pricing—and become more advanced as the engagement progresses to help the customer make increasingly complicated energy management decisions.
Generally, business owners will always prioritize the “business of business” before addressing utility costs—even though utility costs also impact the bottom line and need to be proactively managed. The call to action for utilities is to stop working through contractors and start owning the business relationship themselves, and they can do this with the help of the Building Analytics Module. Customized consumption reports provided by the utility do the “heavy lifting” for businesses, helping them understand their specific needs and which energy and cost saving improvements to implement.
Using smart energy management and building analytics, utilities can cost-effectively identify energy saving opportunities and personalize solutions to their commercial customers. In turn, Ecova’s program design makes it easy for customers to actively participate in creating more energy savings than ever before.
To learn more about the Building Analytics Module, click here.