AEP Ohio Selects Optix Engage, Launches Energy Profile

AEP OHIO LAUNCHES ENERGY PROFILE™, AN ONLINE ENERGY-SAVING EXPERIENCE FOR CUSTOMERS

A modern online experience that matches customers with money-saving and energy-saving rebates and programs.

AEP-OhioGAHANNA, Ohio, March 10, 2015 – AEP Ohio, a unit of American Electric Power (NYSE:AEP), is pleased to announce Energy ProfileTM,  an intuitive, fun and interactive new online energy audit that provides utility customers with a 21st century journey to energy savings. Complementing the recent launch of AEP Ohio’s new website, Energy Profile is now available at aepohio.energysavvy.com.

AEP Ohio selected Seattle-based EnergySavvy, a cloud software company that has deployed solutions for utilities nationwide, to power Energy Profile.

After collecting simple information from customers about their home’s structure, heating and cooling, appliances and energy habits, Energy Profile connects AEP Ohio customers to best-fit programs that will save them money and energy. And the tool provides useful energy information that’s customized to each individual’s dwelling.

AEP-Energy-Profile

“Energy efficiency is helping our customers save both energy and money, and as their utility, AEP Ohio has a unique role to play in providing the tools to educate and connect our customers to the programs that help them,” said David Tabata, AEP Ohio’s Consumer Programs and Marketing Manager. “Critical to the success of these offerings is the ability to engage large numbers of customers in the modern ways they expect and deserve. Energy Profile is one important way for customers to get to know AEP Ohio as their trusted energy advisor.”

It even helps “already efficient” customers with tailored steps to go well beyond the basics. The goal is to drive participation in the utility’s portfolio of energy and demand response programs to cost-effectively boost energy savings.

“We conducted an exhaustive search for online engagement tools and chose EnergySavvy for three main reasons,” said Tabata. “They’ve created an experience that is easy for AEP Ohio customers to use, a visual design that reflects our modern brand and an approach that enables customers without an engineering degree to complete an online energy audit quickly.”

“AEP Ohio is demonstrating its continued commitment to energy efficiency for its 1.5 million residential customers,” said Aaron Goldfeder, CEO of EnergySavvy. “Energy Profile, powered by Optix Engage, is a welcoming front door to AEP Ohio’s comprehensive set of energy efficiency programs.”

Leave a comment

EM&V 2.0: Notes from the Field

Submitted by:
Tim Guiterman, EnergySavvy’s Director of EM&V Solutions

Quote

I recently had a conversation with a fellow evaluator in the energy efficiency field, that is, someone who has been involved in the practice of measuring the unmeasurable: the energy savings from energy efficiency projects. But evaluators don’t only estimate energy savings, they use this quantitative data in conjunction with qualitative information, typically gathered through surveys, interviews and research, to assess the effectiveness of a program dedicated to, you guessed it, saving energy. My counterpart in this conversation had been involved in the evaluation, measurement and verification (EM&V) field for over two decades. We discussed how I had recently left a great position as Associate Director at Navigant, having gotten my start in the EM&V field at Summit Blue. I casually mentioned that in my new role as Director of EM&V Solutions at EnergySavvy, where my focus is on real-time, measure-as-you-go software tools, I am a “recovering evaluator.” She quickly corrected me. “You are now an empowered evaluator.” I like that term. And I think she’s right.

So why did I leave an established consulting firm staffed with industry leading experts, hundreds of years of combined experience, great clients and lots of growth potential? Or in the words of a friend and colleague, “why bet your career on making an energy efficiency meter?”

The answer to that question is fairly simple. Like most energy engineers and evaluators I have known, I want to improve on the status quo. I want to make things better. The job of the evaluation professional in any field, ranging from energy to public health to education, is to provide a systematic assessment of program effectiveness to ensure accountability and improve program delivery. However, as cited in the above quote by evaluator guru Michael Quinn Patton, evaluation gets a bad rap for being static and slow to change. Why is this the case? And, why do I hear so much more griping and complaining about energy efficiency evaluation now that I’ve stepped away from actually doing evaluation work?

The State and Local Energy Efficiency  Action Network’s (SEE Action) EM&V working group  summed it up best: “EM&V is sometimes seen as expensive, not credible, not timely, not transparent, and as a burden, not a benefit.” What I do at EnergySavvy directly addresses these key challenges (while not attempting to replace traditional EM&V) and offers solutions for other critical issues (e.g., quantifying efficiency’s impacts on relieving load pocket constraints).

As an evaluator, I can counter and explain many of the reasons for these challenges, but in the end, they represent significant roadblocks on the path to making energy efficiency a credible, valued resource in the market.

So when I learned that EnergySavvy was seeking someone to help them bring their solution to these challenges to the market, and lead the charge for a new era of evaluation, or EM&V 2.0, I was intrigued. In case you’re not familiar with the company, EnergySavvy uses cloud-based software to engage customers, automate demand-side management programs and quantify results. As I learned about them and the position, it quickly became clear that the only group who will get this done is a company like EnergySavvy: one that provides innovative software solutions to utilities and has a track record of successfully delivering to its clients. I read the three-part series written by EnergySavvy’s CEO, Aaron Goldfeder in Electric Light & Power, and I immediately knew that this company had the ability to actually nudge EM&V into the future. I jumped in head first.

Why Measure-as-you-go?

As outlined by SEE Action, traditional EM&V methods reach a point of diminishing returns where the incremental cost to improve certainty exceeds the incremental value of better information:

Figure 1. Incremental value of information versus incremental cost of traditional evaluation

SEE Action M&V curve final

 Source: SEE Action. 2012. P. 7-13

However, measure-as-you-go tools enable sophisticated analyses to be automated and executed continuously. We can examine the metered savings from every participant in an efficiency program and incorporate a comparison group analysis of the entire population of non-participating customers, resulting in net savings from actual meter readings.

What this really does is break this traditional diagram on both curves. Figure 2 below illustrates three key points. (1) Measure-as-you-go software flattens out the cost curve, as obtaining additional data using modern cloud computing has negligible costs. (2) The value curve in the new paradigm doesn’t drop off. In fact, we create new value as we get timelier and more granular data on the impacts of energy efficiency actions. (3) Even better, it just makes sense to use all the data available, as we’ll hit the information limit (i.e., no more available customer data to input) before the two curves ever cross, and that means these new tools empower EM&V to add value in ways it never has before.

Figure 2. Measure-as-you-go drives new value while flattening the cost curve

MAYG-new-paradigm

© 2015 EnergySavvy. All rights reserved.

 

So I think my counterpart was right: I do feel like an empowered evaluator. And at EnergySavvy, we’re empowering not only evaluation, but the energy efficiency market at large, by bringing to bear the first energy efficiency net meter that can quantify the value of efficiency investments; transforming the counterfactual into a reliable resource that can compete with traditional power generation.

In my next post, I’ll dive deeper into our measure-as-you-go solution and what this means for DSM program administrators, regulators, energy efficiency contractors and evaluation firms. In the meantime, comment below to drop me a line and let me know what you think.

1 Comment

We Love Trade Allies

They are the unsung heroes of energy efficiency — the kind that makes buildings more efficient. These are the trade allies, whether they’re residential contractors or commercial energy service companies. Often, they are the face of utility and state energy efficiency programs.

They Deserve More

contractorMany of these businesses face tight margins and cash flows. But too often, they contend with the silos and 20th-century approaches to energy efficiency that sprung up more than thirty years ago. Faced with expensive overhead, there’s often an incentive to simply cut a discount for customers and work around the utility program. Last year, Greentech Media reported on how California’s energy efficiency program might be improved by focusing on lower transaction costs for contractors, reducing administrative overhead, and focusing on tangible observed savings.

This issue isn’t limited to California. A contractor we know in the Southwest, for example, used to spend three to four hours sitting in front of the computer to do multiple data uploads in clunky Excel templates just for test-in data on a project. And another East Coast contractor was saddled with outdated software that took hours to start up before data entry even could begin. They would start the application and then literally walk away for 30-40 minutes before they could begin entering data. That’s not business-friendly.

It’s 2015! No More Excuses

Although streamlining and silo busting can help trade allies interact in a more business-friendly way with programs, it can cut the other way, too, in enabling utility programs to measure trade ally performance. For example, a single contractor in one statewide energy efficiency program was responsible for 90 percent of all the air-sealing jobs in the state but was underperforming. Twentieth-century evaluation and planning practices meant this wasn’t addressed until the third year of program execution — far too late to take meaningful action.

Just like consumers can read contractor reviews and performance ratings on Yelp, so too should utility programs be able to measure and benchmark trade ally performance with a click. It’s 2015 after all.

Invaluable Assets

As the face of many energy efficiency programs, trade allies are essential to program success. Not only do they carry out most of the audit, retrofit, and quality assurance (QA) tasks, but for many programs they also generate the majority of the program leads and carry out the in-field selling process of EE measures. Yet many programs struggle to keep trade allies working happily and effectively for their programs.

Trade allies are smart, and they will work around poor-quality software by skipping tasks or entering bad data. Some may avoid the program altogether, instead offering a discount in place of the utility rebate, just to avoid the hassle. On the other hand, if treated well and provided with tools that make their jobs easy and help them close deals, trade allies are invaluable assets.

The 5 Do’s and Don’ts to Show You Love Them

1. Don’t make them wait to get paid

Much like the rest of us, trade allies don’t like waiting to get paid. So how can you fix this? Start with automatically assigning QA tasks, automating notifications to both trade allies and customers to complete each task, and reminders when things are past-due.

→ EnergySavvy Optix Manage keeps things moving by automating program workflow, saving time and expense. And since life is imperfect, Manage notifies the responsible party when a task isn’t done on time. In one statewide program, Optix helped reduce average time between audit and test-out by 40 days.

2. Do make technology work for them, not against them

All software is not created equal. Some is so poorly designed and architected that it causes more problems than it fixes. Some DSM “solutions” are simply Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) with custom objects built to track projects like contacts and accounts. Trade allies have felt this pain and have figured out ways to avoid the software or avoid the program altogether.

Partner-portal

→ DSM software needs to be intuitive, fast, and simple. Make it easy for trade allies to complete a task, close out a project stage, and move on with the work they’d rather be doing – making homes and buildings more efficient. EnergySavvy is built for DSM with portals for each trade ally and each customer. It is architected to automate program delivery, not customized software designed for another purpose.

3. Don’t make them enter data twice

Seems so logical, yet today many contractors are collecting building performance data in one system and then re-entering that data into the utility’s program management system. Wasted time and effort and data that’s prone to error makes this a fundamentally untenable approach.

→ EnergySavvy has embraced and advanced standards like HPXML, or Home Performance XML, enabling trade allies to collect data once – in their audit tool of choice – and seamlessly transmit that data to the utility. No double entry, no extra time, and no data errors. Trade allies working with Arizona Public Service reported 31% time savings in just the first couple of months after Optix Manage went live.

4. Do help them help your shared customers

Customers don’t want to call to know the status of their project. Nor do you want them to. The average customer service phone call costs the utility several dollars. And your trade allies field many status calls too. Why in today’s day and age can’t customers access their project status, documentation, and next steps with a click of a button? Enable your trade allies to serve your customers better and increase customer satisfaction at the same time by providing them with the modern online experience they expect and deserve.

→ Optix Manage keeps customers informed with their own “My Project” portal. The utility, its trade allies, AND customers will all have the same project data at their fingertips. No more expensive, frustrating phone calls about straightforward questions like rebate status. Make the experience more like Amazon.com and less like the IRS.

5. Don’t forget:  their satisfaction matters

Managing your trade ally network is vital to the immediate and long-term success of your DSM programs.

→ Trade Ally management is so important to EnergySavvy and our customers, that we dedicate a significant portion of our time and resources to making them happier and more productive for utility programs. Trade allies can use Optix to rapidly complete project tasks, communicate with program administrators, and track projects as they move through a program. Trade allies can manage all their projects, read program news, complete trainings, and review reports that provide insight into their own performance.

In fact, after working with EnergySavvy Optix, satisfaction among trade allies serving Utah’s HPwES program increased by 6 times. And at Arizona Public Service (APS), 50 percent of Trade Allies said they were more likely to submit a job through the program after APS switched to Optix from the previous program software platform.

 

APS-contractor-satisfaction

Trade Ally satisfaction and productivity at APS rose significantly after implementing Optix.

 

Additional client success stories, white papers and results are available in our Resource Library.

Leave a comment

Why Leave Your Customer Experience to Chance?

Some Home Performance with ENERGY STAR® (HPwES) programs are run like a black box or are just plain cumbersome. It’s impossible to know what’s happening across the countless interactions between customers, trade allies, implementation vendors, QA firms and lenders…to say nothing about creating great customer experiences, improving quality, and containing cost. And all too often program data is locked up in hard-to-use databases or file cabinets, requiring time-consuming phone calls to answer simple questions.

HPwES-email-header-2-10-15

There’s a better way. Our clients have tamed the chaos. They’ve created great customer experiences, improved quality and increased savings while driving down unnecessary costs AND achieving better data management. With control over their own data, they now have oversight over the entire program ecosystem including vendors, trade allies, lenders, and more, to drive results like these:

Metric Before EnergySavvy After EnergySavvy Improvement
Audit-to-retrofit conversion rate 48% 70% 46% more
Audit-to-test-out time 103 days 62 days 40% faster
Trade ally satisfaction 15% 89% 6x happier
Up-front incentive $ per MBTU $6.80 $5.27 23% cheaper

Let Software Do What it does Best

Vendors, partners, programs, and staff may change, but control and access to your data shouldn’t. Software should put you in control and integrate with existing IT systems to streamline programs, enable great customer experiences, and increase savings per dollar.

LEARN MORE: check out the new Arizona Public Service case study highlighting the results they achieved with Optix Manage for their HPwES program. And download our new paper, Customer Centric Home Performance.

APS-case-study-white     download-white-paper

 

Leave a comment

The “God Particle,” EM&V, and Super Bowl XLIX

super-bowl-patriots-seahawks

A seemingly random set of topics are woven together as bi-coastal EnergySavvy—headquartered in Seahawks territory with a significant Patriots hometown office—announces Salt River Project as a customer. And if you haven’t heard, SRP is providing green energy to the University of Phoenix Stadium for Super Bowl XLIX. In the biggest single sporting event of the year, opposing teams from EnergySavvy’s hometowns will be squaring off under lights powered by our client utility. Score one for energy.

And even as we celebrate the Legion of Boom and Beast Mode, we also are excited to welcome amazing new product talent to the EnergySavvy team. A particle physics PhD who helped discover Higgs boson (the so-called “God particle”) at CERN and an energy engineering and EM&V expert are now applying their expertise to quantification – combining data science, industry EM&V techniques and modern cloud computing to enable a measure-as-you-go approach for the DSM industry.

EnergySavvy Welcomes The Honorable Fred Butler as Adviser

The former President of NARUC and one of the longest serving utility commissioners in New Jersey state history, The Honorable Fred Butler joins as regulatory adviser to the company.

With extensive leadership and industry recognition, Mr. Butler will provide a strategic role in further developing the company’s outreach to the regulatory community and advancing better quantification and delivery of energy efficiency.

Fred Butler Headshot

The Honorable Fred Butler joins EnergySavvy as Regulatory Adviser

“The ability of utilities, their evaluators, regulators, and other stakeholders to measure energy efficiency performance quickly, accurately and continuously creates value for the industry. EnergySavvy has proven that its platform delivers greater value for the market, unlocking more energy savings per rate-payer dollar spent on efficiency. As state commissions and utilities look to energy efficiency as a predictable and reliable source of growth, the company’s products are well suited to enable that transformation.”
- The Honorable Fred Butler

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Butler’s guidance and experience as we grow and expand,” said Aaron Goldfeder, founder and CEO of EnergySavvy. “He has a genuine passion for the advancement of energy efficiency and deep respect among commissioners and utility leaders in the U.S. and around the world.”

EnergySavvy Continues to Attract Stellar Talent

Recently named one of “10 companies to watch in energy analytics,” EnergySavvy  is growing at a brisk pace, with several new executives and product experts joining the company.

Michael Rigney, an energy industry veteran, is now Senior Vice President of Client Solutions, Marketing, and Regulatory Affairs. From 2005 to 2010, he held sales and marketing leadership positions at EnerNOC during its growth from $1M to $280M in revenue and from 25 to 500 employees. More recently, Rigney was VP of Business Development at Gridco Systems.

Leading the rapidly growing Client Engagement team, Michael Albrecht has joined EnergySavvy as Vice President of the group to scale and grow the company’s implementation and support capabilities. Previously, Albrecht led national services teams for Microsoft.

To support the growth of Optix Quantify, our measure-as-you-go software for utility demand-side management programs, Tim Guiterman has joined EnergySavvy as Director of Evaluation, Measurement & Verification (EM&V) Solutions. Guiterman brings eight years of energy engineering and EM&V expertise to EnergySavvy, most recently with Navigant. “This is a game changer for the industry,” said Guiterman. “Combining best practices in evaluation with the latest in cloud computing and data science to measure-as-you-go just makes sense.”

Also on the Optix Quantify product team, John Backus Mayes has joined EnergySavvy as Senior Data Scientist. Backus Mayes earned a PhD in particle physics, contributed to the discovery of the Higgs boson particle during his time at CERN, and more recently developed algorithms for thermostat automation at EcoFactor.

And finally, since yours truly is a Rain City dweller, let me just say GO HAWKS!

Leave a comment