Effective data analytics initiatives are not just about groundbreaking algorithms, software and automation. That was a key takeaway from the 2016 West Coast Energy Management Congress, which Ecova recently participated in with Puget Sound Energy (PSE), one of our utility partners. Held annually by the Association of Energy Engineers, it is the largest energy conference and technology expo on the west coast for commercial and institutional energy users. Shobin Uralil, Vice President of Operations for Ecova’s Retroficiency Analytics Platform, co-presented a session called “How Advanced Analytics Is Scaling Commercial Efficiency at Puget Sound Energy” with former PSE engineer Andreas Winardi.
One of the conference’s major themes was how to best leverage analytics in energy efficiency programs. Many of the learnings shared aligned with our team’s experience – for example, that any utility or energy service provider considering an analytics solution should have a well-defined plan for how analytics will support and guide its programs. Data analytics will provide a wealth of insight and identify specific issues, but additional work is needed to motivate customers to put that information into action, or these remote energy assessments will simply be another ‘energy audit report sitting on the shelf.’
Puget Sound Energy has a strong understanding of the positive impact analytics can have on its programs. Serving more than 1.8 million electric and natural gas customers in Washington state, PSE has been a long-time leader in implementing energy efficiency and demand-side management initiatives for the commercial sector. But as its programs matured, the utility – like many others around the country – has found an increasing need to reach new customers and segments, drive adoption of more energy efficiency measures, and better understand energy consumption and opportunities at scale.
PSE called on Ecova, its partner since 2002, to help solve these challenges. The utility is leveraging the full capabilities of Ecova’s Efficiency Analytics solution (built on the Retroficiency Analytics Platform) to unlock operational and retrofit savings and understand its customers more rapidly, accurately and cost-effectively than before. To date, PSE has worked with Ecova to accomplish the following objectives:
- Target and prioritize more than 370 commercial customers based on their energy savings potential
- Engage managed and non-managed accounts with personalized, customer-specific reports and insights delivered at the first point of contact. This multi-channel engagement includes:
- Email outreach to customers with energy savings potential
- Phone campaign targeting medium-to-high potential customers
- 1:1 webinar reviews with engaged customers
- Convert more projects in multiple programs, including comprehensive building tune-up, lighting and custom incentive programs, and remotely refine opportunities as much as possible, providing customized support based on the needs of each customer
- Track operational and retrofit savings over time through auto-M&V using a whole building baseline approach
By leveraging Ecova’s Virtual Energy Assessment, PSE has driven increased customer interest in energy efficiency projects at scale, both through its account management group and through direct marketing channels. Based on current results in the pilot program, Ecova has identified more than 140 GWh in energy savings potential and driven a 23% customer engagement rate.
In addition, customers have found more confidence in the savings they are realizing. With Ecova’s Efficiency Track auto-M&V software, PSE and its customers can accurately measure savings from implemented measures and operational changes. For example, a municipal building that was experiencing issues with excessive overnight consumption was able to save 3% in energy use after implementing an HVAC schedule adjustment recommended by Ecova’s analytics and confirmed by our remote customer engagement specialists (see below image).
What do you think of PSE’s experience with analytics and how analytics platforms are being leveraged by utilities? If you have any questions or thoughts we’d love to hear from you – reach out to us today.