Self-service Customer Engagement
Lights the way Ahead for Utilities
Power to the people right now. That rallying cry dating back to the
1960s has taken on a whole new meaning in the utility sector 50 years later.
Truly radical advancements in smart
meters and data analytics have made
self-service customer engagement a tool
for the here and now instead of a mantra
for the future. You don’t have to just
Viva la difference if you want to survive.
In a mere matter of months or years, not
decades, many customers will have the
power to tailor their electricity delivery
purely to their own individual wants and
needs. That could mean rooftop or community solar, time-of-use rates, paperless
billing, demand response and smart thermostat options and many other things.
And if you think the pace of change
is settling down, you’re wrong. It’s only
“This is ever evolving. There are always
better tools coming out,” said Carim
insights from smart-grid data to improve
customer experience and operational effi-
ciency. “I don’t think the journey is over in
three to five years.”
Exelon, the largest utility holding
company in the U.S., has rolled out
the first phase of its BIDA effort with a
program called Smart Energy Services
(SES) that is focused around home ener-
gy usage and efficiency reports for mil-
lions of customers. Exelon is partnering
with OPower on the residential portion
and FirstFuel Software on the upcoming
commercial and industrial side.
Both BIDA and SES arise out of the
massive rollout of smart meters undertaken by Exelon units ComEdison,
Baltimore Gas & Electric, PECO and
Delmarva, among others. Khouzami
said the next step was developing use
cases, or opportunities, to understand
and then act on this data. Layers of
smart-meter information were combined
with customer preferences, weather data
and other statistics. This information
was fed into a data lake, over which the
third-party vendors’ applications were
laid and interacted.
Exelon utilities went live with SES earlier this year. Mark
Case, vice president
of strategy and regulatory affairs at
Exelon, was charged
with sponsoring SES
to go-live. He said
that building the IT architecture for SES
was the most complex thing up front.
“Once built it provides a great platform
for the future,” Case said. “Setting that up
is definitely something. It’s at the front
edge, it’s new territory.”
Moving to the next level of value from
advanced metering infrastructure (AMI)
has been a goal of utilities since the first
wave of savings from reduced meter read-
ing and other early efficiencies. Exelon is
only one example of bigger companies
that totally get this. Italy-based Enel’s
North American unit acquired a 100-per-
cent stake in Demand Energy Networks
to gain its software and energy storage
capabilities. Others such as Ameren also
are diving into their own initiatives.
Renewables and storage, for instance,
should play a huge role in future custom-
er engagement options. Millennials—the
largest upcoming customer class—seem to
be demanding clean energy options such
as rooftop solar, while they’re also open
to new technologies that can offer tailored
rate modules and load-shaving tools.
“They are signifying greater support
and interest in clean, renewable energy,”
said Marlene Motyka, principal and U.S.
and global renewable energy leader for
BY ROD WALTON, SENIOR EDITOR
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Smart Energy Services print insert. Courtesy Exelon.