Customer Service Offerings Get Digital Upgrades
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The utility-customer relationship has gone from paper bills to highly-functional websites and apps. But the truth remains: utilities struggle to talk to customers. "Customer calls are always considered a pain point," Bidgely CEO Abhay Gupta told Utility Dive. "They're considered a cost by most utilities." Call centers are expensive, and customers call for just a few, typically negative reasons: outages and high bills.
From the evolution of electrification to skyrocketing solar power, energy utilities have the opportunity to serve as a proactive, trusted resource to drive customer awareness and achieve greater customer satisfaction amid rapid industry change. Questline has announced the summer launch of two new targeted, packaged solutions: Power Your Business and Electric Vehicles. The products are being created to help energy utilities deliver valuable information to the small business segment and customers interested in electrification and EVs.
Ameren is accepting applications for a its public-private partnership called the Ameren Accelerator, which was created to make the energy grid smarter and more reliable. The program, now in its third year, mentors and invests in energy-technology startup companies. Ameren and its partners are seeking energy-focused startups to develop new energy technologies related to clean energy, the energy grid and smart communities. Applications are being accepted through May 24 at amerenaccelerator.com.
Bringing more cost-effective solar energy to the Carolinas, 14 utility-scale projects have been selected during an independently judged bidding process – part of a 2017 comprehensive renewable energy law. Based on an independent evaluation process, Duke Energy will produce or purchase a total of 602 MW of renewable energy from projects under the North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy program.
Over the past few years, we’ve been tracking the rise of voice-activated devices like Google Assistant and Amazon Alexa in U.S. homes, along with the efforts of utilities to use these platforms to engage their customers. On Thursday, Google announced its latest work on this front: a new developer program that’s allowing some of the country’s biggest utilities and the companies that work with them — like Tendril and Oracle’s Opower — to more tightly integrate their technologies.
Consulting firm Energy + Environmental Economics released a study recently examining the energy savings, greenhouse gas savings, impacts to the electric grid and overall economics of residential building electrification for customers across many regions of California. The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, SMUD and SCE commissioned the study.
Green Mountain Power has joined the ranks of utilities like Xcel Energy that are working toward 100 percent carbon-free electricity. The Vermont-based utility will target 100 percent carbon-free by 2025 and 100 percent renewables by 2030. In December, the company said its power sources are already 90 percent carbon-free, so the 2025 deadline won’t be a huge reach. At the same time, Green Mountain said its mix was over 60 percent renewables, coming from mostly hydropower.
The Chicago City Council recently unanimously voted to commit to 100 percent renewable energy by 2035, making it the largest U.S. city thus far to do so. The Mayor's Office Sustainability Team will be responsible for developing a citywide transition plan for 100 percent clean energy by December 2020. The resolution also calls for complete electrification of the Chicago Transportation Authority's bus fleet by 2040.