Customer Engagement – Smart Meters

This Texas-based company provides electricity and energy services to retail customers in the United States. The company provides service to approximately 1.8 million retail electricity customers primarily in Texas, including residential and small business customers. The company also serves commercial, industrial, governmental and institutional customers in US Northeast.

To address the issues this energy provider in supply-side asset utilization, they focused on assisting customers in better managing their consumption of energy.  Energy providers need to plan based on peak demands, which are hit during weather events such as prolonged heat waves.  When the weather returns to normal, demand drops well below peak levels and along with it revenues fall.  Enabling the customer to make informed purchase decisions would smooth out demand during these peak periods, leading to fewer capital investments needed.

In today’s environment, the power industry must strike a constant balance amongst the following factors:

  • Reliability
    • More service delivery points
    • More in-premise services
  • Price
    • Increasing fuel costs
    • Increasing construction costs
  • Environmental Impact
    • CO2 emissions
    • SOX and NOX

The reserve margins in the power industry have been declining in the last few years but the asset utilization has been historically poor. Clearly, a continuous focus on the supply side is not the answer. A new solution must engage customers. The Smart Energy initiative is built on two basic premises:

  • Transparent usage and cost information that is timely decisions, e.g.
    • Setting your thermostat is a climate control purchase decision
    • What if you could choose 72 degrees for $200; 74 degrees for $160; 78 degrees for $80
  • Economic incentive to change behavior, e.g.
    • Customers do not care when they use power because they pay the same rate throughout the day o Hotels and airlines offer lower rates to use their products at off-peak times
    • Engaged customers represent a new balanced source of supply.

The Smart Energy Web Portal is the platform for customer engagement. The Smart Energy Web Portal invents a new customer experience that transforms the way customers use and value electricity.

The key features of the Smart Energy Web Portal are:

  • Illustrate power use and cost in real-time
  • Enable customers to make clear and timely decisions
  • Explain power in terms they can understand
  • Provide tools to control usage and cost when it counts
  • Energy Savings Projects – Detailed instructions and walkthroughs on valuable energy-saving projects such as calking, adding attic insulation, landscaping, and lighting maintenance.
  • Energy Checkup – This tool helps residential customers improve, analyze, learn and save on energy.
  • Energy Experts@company.com – Company experts respond online to customer questions with customized tips and information.

Impact

The Smart Energy initiative will allow the company to:

  • Empower the demand side by delivering market price signals  directly to customers
  • Put information, choice, and control in the hands of the customers
  • Create insights that result in customer energy consumption decisions

Desired Outcome

Increase the engagement of customer in an informed decision process which will lead to smoother levels of consumption and less infrastructure investment.  

A key element of this initiative is a customer portal that provides real-time utilization data, provide pricing incentives to more actively manage energy consumption, and deliver advice on energy savings.

 

Our Solution

The company received a $20 million grant from the Department of Energy under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act. The grant will help the company roll out more smart energy options to consumers to help them control their energy use. The Smart Energy Web Portal is the most visible component of the initiative.

RCG as one of the three preferred IT services providers was chosen to assist the company with the design and development efforts  associated with the Smart Energy Web Portal.

Technology

RCG provided support of the Smart Energy web portal for the following technologies:

  • IBM Websphere Transformation Extender
  • Oracle
  • PL/SQL
  • HTML
  • Java
  • Documentum

Subscribe to get the Latest Updates

Enter your email address below to get the latest news and updates from RCG.