Meet Engage Direct, a New Way to Engage ALL of Your Customers

Successful initiatives at Minnesota Energy Resources and a large Northeast utility prove that intelligent and personalized direct-to-customer energy assessments can engage hard-to-reach customers, providing an effective “front door” to utility customer programs and measurably increasing customer satisfaction.

EngageDirect_1Meet Engage Direct, personalized 1-to-1 engagement that educates and activates traditionally passive customers. Proven highly effective in reaching utility customers that do not interact with their utility online, Engage Direct embodies the utility-of-the-future trend: one in which customer choice, efficiency and renewable options, and connected homes and devices provide an unprecedented level of control to the energy consumer.

Engage Direct enhances EnergySavvy’s popular Optix Engage online energy assessment, already in use by 25 electric and gas utilities and state programs nationwide. The Engage Direct experience is simple for customers. First, a customer completes the no-cost home energy survey and mails it back. Then, the customer receives a personalized report in the mail identifying specific energy saving options and utility demand side management (DSM) programs that are a fit. For the utility, all customer-reported data is securely stored and accessible through the Engage Analytics portal, making Optix Engage a powerful tool for segmenting and matching utility customers with the right utility programs.

Utilities are welcoming the high performance delivered by Engage Direct. In initial deployments at both Minnesota Energy Resources and a large investor-owned utility in the Northeast, mailings achieved a response rate of 17%, far exceeding the typical rate for direct mail of just one to two percent. And customers love it. Notably, in a follow-up survey in Minnesota, those who completed Engage Direct reported 18% higher satisfaction with their utility than a control group.

The response rate from Engage Direct was much higher than we expected and it drove a significant percentage of our customers to our website. We were able to engage traditionally hard-to-reach customers including seniors and lower income, exactly the types of customers who may benefit most from our energy saving programs.
Jim Phillippo, Minnesota Energy Resources

Complementary to other utility engagement initiatives—like home energy reports that employ neighbor-to-neighbor comparisons to passively engage and positively impact behavior over time—Engage Direct begins an active conversation with customers about energy usage and how the utility’s programs can help them improve.

“Engage Direct lets utilities start an active conversation about energy with customers they’re not already interacting with online,” said Scott Case, EnergySavvy’s Chief Operating Officer. “It’s simple and easy, a great outreach tool not just for low-income and elderly populations, but also makes sense for community events, in-school programs and annual mailings.”

Join us for a webinar on Engaging ALL of Your Customers, coming up on September 2.

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EnergySavvy and Oracle Power DSM Applications through Connected Data

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A product partnership between EnergySavvy and Oracle Utilities will drive savings measurement and better customer experience through connected customer and meter data.

Savings measurement software, like Optix Quantify, that brings faster and deeper insights to utility demand-side management relies on data science, distributed cloud computing, and established protocols in measurement and verification (M&V). But it also relies on customer and meter data – either analog meter data or AMI data. And accessing customer and meter data and using it in downstream applications can present a major obstacle for utilities.

Oracle_2Today, Oracle announced the launch of DataConnect, a new data extraction feature for Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing and Oracle Utilities Meter Data Management that allows utilities to derive greater value from their data by more easily leveraging data across utility systems, including those provided by product partners like EnergySavvy.

By making customer usage and billing data securely accessible, Oracle enables utilities to accelerate and adopt solutions like Optix Quantify more quickly and easily. And the integration of EnergySavvy and Oracle’s Customer Care and Billing solution delivers one view of the customer for call center representatives, improved customer experience, and greater access to customer and energy efficiency data across the organization.

EnergySavvy’s energy efficiency quantification software, Optix Quantify, utilizes usage data to measure and calculate energy savings in real-time. DataConnect provides that valuable customer and meter data simply and easily, decreasing the time to value and helping utilities realize maximum performance from Optix Quantify.”
Scott Case, EnergySavvy COO

In Oracle’s press release today, Rodger Smith, senior vice president and general manager said, “Oracle recognized that customer information systems and meter data management systems should not restrict the use of this powerful data. Oracle Utilities DataConnect gives utilities the power to freely access their customer and meter data and leverage it to deliver excellent service and drive peak performance across the organization.”

Connected data among an ecosystem of utility technology providers, is helping to enable 21st Century Demand-Side Management. Want to explore how to leverage your investments in metering infrastructure to engage customers, manage programs, and quantify DSM? Drop us a line:

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EnergySavvy Welcomes Tom King, Former CEO of National Grid U.S., to its Board of Directors

King’s utility and energy efficiency industry leadership will help drive success and fuel the growth of EnergySavvy’s demand-side management software and solutions.

The EnergySavvy team has demonstrated a strong ability to deliver a software-based solution that drives customer engagement, manages customer programs and quantifies results in real-time.
Tom King

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Tom King joins EnergySavvy’s Board of Directors

EnergySavvy, a leader in cloud software for utilities, announced that energy efficiency industry leader, Tom King, joins its Board of Directors. With more than two decades of utility senior management experience in roles including CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric Company and more recently National Grid U.S., Tom King brings invaluable expertise and a unique perspective to EnergySavvy. The company continues to scale its demand-side management software and solutions for utilities, powered by modern customer engagement, analytics and automation.

“Tom has run two of the world’s leading utilities that operate in the #1, #2, #3 and #7 ranked states for energy efficiency. His experience is only matched by his passion for industry progress,” said Aaron Goldfeder, CEO and co-founder of EnergySavvy. “His leadership and insights will help enable EnergySavvy to continue to provide breakthrough and increasingly valuable solutions to our rapidly changing industry. We’re honored to have him join us.”

“I’m excited to join the EnergySavvy team as we drive the next wave forward,” said Tom King. “The EnergySavvy team has demonstrated a strong ability to deliver a software-based solution that drives customer engagement, manages customer programs and quantifies results in real-time. After a deep dive with the team, I was captured. Our evolving industry demands better data and software-driven methods more than ever before. I look forward to continuing to make an impact as an EnergySavvy board member.”

Tom King has been a leader in energy efficiency for many years. He spent the last eight driving success as President and Executive Director at National Grid U.S., while serving as Chairman of the Alliance to Save Energy over the past three years. Tom is credited with the Northeast utility’s successful turnaround, improving returns and customer service led by a program of regulatory engagement and filings, plus a major restructuring in 2011. National Grid manages over $550 million annually in energy efficiency across its US business. And the states it serves, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and New York, are ranked at the top of the national scorecard developed by the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE).

Before National Grid, Tom served in a series of senior operating positions at PG&E Corporation from 1998-2007, including President of PG&E Corporation and Chairman and CEO of Pacific Gas and Electric Company from 2003-2007, and prior to that as President of PG&E National Energy Group.

 

EM&V 2.0: Notes from the Field

How Savings Measurement Software Complements Evaluation

-By Tim Guiterman

Greentech Media published an article this week citing many of the challenges with measuring energy efficiency today, with quotes from me as well as several other voices in the industry. The article addresses very real problems, but it takes a controversial posture without the views of the evaluation community, which inevitably invites some unnecessary conflict. The framing, and especially the headline, implied something I don’t believe: that EM&V as it stands today is inaccurate or unreliable, or that it should go away. I’m not saying that the article misquoted me. And, in fact, I believe that the way we measure energy efficiency should continue to evolve – I said much the same thing in my previous blog post about why I joined EnergySavvy.

While there is a really important conversation here, the take-away message doesn’t reflect EnergySavvy’s views, so I wanted to make sure that a few of our core beliefs are articulated.

Innovation in this field is based on the past and future success of EM&V. More than three decades of successful energy efficiency programs have been quantified and valued as a result of EM&V, and the continued success of this field provides the foundation for new approaches and methods.

New software-based methods won’t replace EM&V work any more than QuickBooks replaced third-party audit firms. EnergySavvy isn’t suggesting that software is going to displace traditional evaluation. Much of the qualitative and quantitative work done by evaluators cannot be automated by software.

Integrated M&V is an exciting and promising frontier. One of the things we’re most excited about is the role of moving savings measurement into the earlier parts of program execution. In an industry that spends over $20B per three-year program cycle, this is an opportunity to create billions of dollars of value through continuous program optimization.

It’s about the customer experience and beyond, not just measurement. The discussion is about more than energy measurement. For example, if on average an installed widget saves 100 kWh, that’s important for planning and incentives. But by definition, some widgets will save less and some more, reflecting quality of installation, customer usage patterns, location, behavior and other factors. Utilities need timely data to identify what works and what doesn’t. And the utility of the future needs to know what’s happening on the grid.

But we cannot ignore the challenges of measurement either. This blog is all about “Notes from the Field,” and since my last post, I have hit the road hard, traveling around the country meeting with utilities, regulators, evaluators, implementers and other stakeholders. And what I’m hearing every day better reflects the challenges and solutions.

There are clear challenges with the way energy efficiency is measured today, with real implications. These generally center around three key areas:

  • First and foremost, data lag is often the biggest source of frustration for regulators and program administrators. The long time delay between program execution and obtaining the final verified savings from impact evaluation means that plans and budgets for the next cycle are set before the results are available. The outcome is that standard operating procedure for many DSM programs is to run a program without a clear understanding of the actual performance.
  • The second challenge builds off the first, and is that the value of measurement directly ties to usefulness. Despite significant spending on EM&V, data lag delays process improvements, threatens program success, and impacts cost effectiveness calculations that determine the regulatory approval of programs. This one is key. The depth and breadth of evaluation studies are substantial, and while I’ve always known there’s some frustration with evaluation, I have been surprised to hear for myself how much of this effort is not perceived as valuable or useful across many departments within utilities. That’s a shame, and something I’d like to see addressed through more than just new software tools.
  • Finally, there is a pent-up demand both at the utilities and in the markets for data based on actual performance. Variability in energy efficiency estimates undercuts the ability to value energy efficiency. It has also been cost-prohibitive to collect information on more than a sample of projects, and this often means that as evaluators, we struggle to provide granular insights due to a lack of sufficient data to dive in deeper. Trade allies and customers also have too few mechanisms to receive feedback on how their energy efficiency projects performed. This gap between expectations and actual performance, whether real or perceived, has direct implications on the confidence that key stakeholders have in energy efficiency.

Technology to help address these challenges is now emerging and in use today. Savings measurement software can provide granular insights into program performance and provide administrators data to improve and enhance programs as well as capture and promote best practices, all during the program year. The utilities I speak with understand how valuable this information is, and for evaluators, continuous and easy-to-digest data helps shine light on the difficult work we do.

Despite these many benefits, this technology is not a silver bullet; savings measurement software works best when we have programs with enough participants and we can tie savings to the meter. Certain programs and applications like custom C&I and retail lighting programs aren’t good candidates. Utilities are also unlikely to invest in software, solely for the sake of M&V, for programs where the engineering estimates of savings are well-established and there is high certainty in the baseline conditions. The challenges that face traditional evaluation methods still remain but using powerful computing and data analytics can bring significant insights, faster, meaning the best solutions will integrate established EM&V expertise, approaches and methods with these new tools. Finally, one more point, and one that I make regularly: savings measurement software is a powerful way to complement and enhance third party EM&V. It will help meet the one key goal of every evaluation, which is to improve the effectiveness of energy efficiency programs, while at the same time leverage deeper value from EM&V efforts.

How we measure and value energy savings is critical to the past and future success of energy efficiency. I look forward to continuing the conversation as I travel to talk with utilities, evaluators, regulators and other stakeholders. EnergySavvy’s next installment on this topic will be a June 18th webinar. I hope you can join us.

The $24 Billion Energy Efficiency Measurement Challenge

If we want to move to a world of market-approaches, distributed energy resources linked by a modernized grid, while delivering true customer benefits and leverage demand-side management (DSM) as a compliance pathway on 111(d), we have to solve this challenge.

Join the Webinar: “Quantifying Energy Efficiency in Real Time”

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Feedback on what’s working—or not—is essential, yet traditional practice only measures actual performance after-the-fact. Join EnergySavvy and guests panelists from Ameren Missouri and PSEG Long Island for the June 18th webinar, “Quantifying Energy Efficiency in Real Time.” The utility speakers will share their vision for a more streamlined, proactive, timely, quantitative approach enabled by continuous savings measurement. And we’ll provide a demo of Optix Quantify, EnergySavvy’s savings measurement software.

Featuring:

  • Greg Lovett, Manager of Energy Efficiency, Ameren Missouri
  • Dan Zaweski, Manager, Planning & Evaluation, PSEG Long Island
  • Tim Guiterman, Director of EM&V Solutions, EnergySavvy

 

Energy Efficiency Spending and Lost Opportunities

The utility industry spends close to $8 billion each year on energy efficiency, projected to double over the coming decade. Over a three-year period, that’s about $24 billion with results often coming in the third year. That’s too late to have impacted those three years of program operations, not to mention the immense opportunity costs in terms of missed positive customer experiences, regulatory confidence, and an energy efficiency market valued on savings more than incentives.

Modernizing Savings Measurement through Software

The good news is secure enterprise cloud computing is low cost, the data science is proven, and the convergence with traditional M&V protocols can enable continuous energy savings measurement.

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Tim Guiterman, EnergySavvy’s Director of EM&V Solutions, said “with modern cloud computing and data science it’s possible cheaply analyze actual energy savings on the meter for every single project, on a rolling basis, and compare with general energy users to remove other effects to compute actual net savings.”

Join the Upcoming Webinar

Register for the upcoming webinar on June 18, “Quantifying Energy Efficiency in Real Time” featuring speakers from Ameren Missouri, PSEG Long Island, and EnergySavvy.