Utility DSM Customer Engagement – Time to Move the Needle

Mar 26, 2014

The phrase “move the needle” may be considered rather annoying business jargon by some, but when it comes to utility demand side management (DSM) customer engagement the need to do so seems fitting, or should be, given the increasing focus and concern for utilities on how to do this effectively. From general market awareness and standalone behavioral outreach, current approaches to managing utility DSM and energy efficiency customer engagement often lack the collaboration, impact, and scalability to deliver effective results.

What are some of the key best practices and elements utilities need to consider for a real paradigm shift (speaking of business jargon) to customer engagement that can help move that needle for their DSM and broader engagement results?

A new approach can combine modern, consumer-facing web technologies with utility software systems, best practices, and analytics to cost-effectively transform the approach to DSM customer engagement and streamline ecosystem collaboration between customers, trade allies and the utility. This can include:

  • Delivering personalized, action-oriented, online engagement and education enabling customers to understand and benefit from energy conservation, change their usage and equipment purchasing  behaviors and participate in new or existing utility DSM programs
  • Providing real-time information, rapid analysis and program or rebate information through mobile energy assessments
  • Streamlining efficient vendor and contractor outreach, engagement, and management and the ability for customers to find appropriate trade allies to form an energy efficiency and conservation community that works together effectively
  • Providing online enrollment, application visibility and reduced time to rebate for customers while enabling effective and efficient, end-to-end DSM business process management including planning, marketing, roll-out, tracking, and reporting

Leading utilities and municipalities are demonstrating success along these lines. For example, JEA, through a combination of purpose-built software and effective program design and delivery exceeded its energy savings target by more than 30% resulting in nearly 4,600 megawatt hours of cost-effective energy savings over the course of the larger EE program cycle. 

Another example is a large Midwest utility that has leveraged a suite of targeted outreach and trade ally management best practices combined with mobile assessment capabilities, to exceed their small business goals by nearly 100% with 22GWh of electric savings, 20-29% conversion to assessment and 91-93% conversion from assessment to signed projects.

Now is the time to move the needle on DSM customer engagement that drives persistent energy savings, customer participation and satisfaction, and compliance with goals or regulations – so what’s your plan?