Community-Centered Strategies for Engaging Consumers
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Each year, SECC publishes the “State of the Consumer” report, an analysis of the previous year’s consumer research that provides a few major trends around the needs and wants of today’s residential energy consumers. Over the decade-long history of this annual report, one area has proven to be a mainstay: education. SECC’s “2020 State of the Consumer” report, published in January, points to education as a requirement to increase energy engagement and address the needs of today's consumers.
Saving energy can be as simple as replacing light bulbs or adjusting the thermostat, but most utility customers need a little nudge to take action. Behavioral energy efficiency, also known as BEE, is one of the most cost-effective ways for utilities to generate energy savings. In fact, utilities spend an average of just two percent of their DSM portfolio budget on behavioral energy efficiency, yet it produces an average of 10 percent of their savings.
With approval from the Missouri Public Service Commission, Ameren Missouri is set to drop its electric rates by $32 million — a decrease of approximately $15 per year for the average residential customer. It is the second consecutive decrease for the company, which previously cut rates by 6 percent in 2018, as part of its Smart Energy Plan. The company notes the ongoing savings as part of its largest infrastructure upgrade plan in 100 years of operation. New energy management options will be offered for more personal consumer tailoring and an online rate comparison tool will be developed for use.
Over the last 25 years, Amazon has disrupted the retail industry and transformed customer expectations around what a company could deliver. Convenience, inventory and speed are at the core of the Amazon experience, but a commitment to constant innovation has led to forays into entertainment, fashion, music and, of course, virtual assistant technology with Alexa. Today’s e-commerce businesses and category leaders, not surprisingly, are reinventing the Amazon playbook and amplifying the customer experience.
Global revenue for home electric heating, cooling, and cooking equipment could increase more than five times by the end of the decade. The surge in spending on all-electric homes is expected even though many consumers are unfamiliar with the natural gas-displacing electric appliances on the market today. Around 70 million American homes burn natural gas, oil or propane for home space and water heating, according to Navigant Research.
New Jersey set a record for solar installation in 2019, according to the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU). A new NJBPU report found that 447 MW of solar capacity commenced commercial operations in 2019, a record for one year. Those installations bring the state’s total capacity up to 3,190 MW through the end of the year – up from 2,743 MW from the previous year. Solar now serves five percent of the state’s energy needs.
For the second straight year, customer satisfaction with electric utilities took a hit, sliding 1.5 percent to a score of 72 out of 100, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index Energy Utilities Report 2019-2020. “If there was ever a sign that the energy utilities sector needed to modernize the grids, 2019 was it,” says David VanAmburg, Managing Director at the American Customer Satisfaction Index.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker’s administration has finalized a major rule for promoting clean energy during the most expensive hours of electricity production. Recently, the state's Department of Energy Resources filed its Clean Peak Standard regulations with the appropriate committees at the state legislature, kicking off a 30-day review period. It is expected to take effect in June. The Clean Peak Standard, called for in legislation passed in 2018, creates credits for clean energy delivered during time windows identified as peak hours for a given season.