Inside Austin Energy’s Customer-Focused Business Strategy
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
In 2015, Austin Energy residential customers had the second lowest energy bills of any utility in Texas. But the utility spends less time comparing itself to other power providers, says VP of Customer Energy Solutions Deborah Kimberly, and instead looks to a broader range of offerings and products to judge how it's doing.
The Ohio PUC has launched an initiative looking at how best to support emerging grid technologies that can provide consumer benefits. “From a policy perspective, we are interested in exploring the latest innovation in the electric industry... in order to enhance the electric customer’s experience,” PUC Chairman Asim Haque said March 17 in an interview about the PowerForward initiative.
2016 was a notable year for a number of distributed energy companies, with Tesla’s acquisition of SolarCity, Opower’s sale to Oracle and key solar net metering decisions dominating the headlines. But slightly behind the scenes, another advanced energy vendor has been making strides in the market, living out what may be the DER startup dream.
CPS Energy has been recognized by the APPA for implementing innovative energy efficient techniques and technologies for its customers. The energy provider to more than 804,000 electric and 343,000 gas customers has received the APPA’s 2018 Energy Innovator Award. The award recognizes utilities for employing innovation to provide consumers with better services, as well as for increasing the efficiency of utility operations.
The ICC recently launched an 18-month study focused on finding new technologies, utility business models and regulatory strategies to transform the state's grid into a more flexible and efficient resource. The NextGrid study will be led by an outside facilitator and will result in a final report late in 2018 that will include "tangible recommendations" to the ICC and Illinois General Assembly.
Over the next five years, the cumulative U.S. solar market is expected to nearly triple in size, although a slight dip is expected in 2017. On average, U.S. solar photovoltaic system pricing fell by nearly 20 percent last year — the greatest average year-over-year price decline since GTM Research began modelling pricing in this series of reports.
BGE reported that its residential customer bills were reduced by 25 percent this winter compared to winter bills two years ago. The 25 percent reduction translates to an average customer savings of $72 per month. Customers also used less electricity through February due to mild weather, participation in EE programs and managing their energy use with real-time information provided by smart meters.
In the first phase of the NY Prize competition in 2015, 83 municipalities won awards of $100,000 to conduct feasibility studies for microgrids that could boost grid resiliency. The program, part of the state’s REV effort, is intended to help modernize and grid and add resiliency in areas where extreme weather has often resulted in power outages.