E Source Blog
Welcome to the E Source Blog! Our staff will share insights and observations about life at E Source, our events, our research, and other fun stuff.
We’re here in sunny San Diego for the 5th Annual E Source Utility Marketing Conference. Here’s a rundown of all the sessions from the residential track of day one.
Opening plenary: Are Utilities Becoming Irrelevant? Fighting Back with Customer Experience and Brand Strategy
Bill LeBlanc, E Source. Things are a-changing and that means our brands need to evolve to adjust. E Source’s own Bill LeBlanc urged utilities to always be looking ahead for influences—including forces of nature and demographics—that are going to be changing how you reach your customers. He asked, “What can utilities learn from hamburgers?” Hamburger companies are being forced to remodel their brand to deal with healthy food trends. He went through a multistep process for a successful brand, landing on the sweet spot: A brand supported by consumers and employees. To achieve this, businesses need to create a product and services portfolio to support the chosen brand, deliver a customer experience, build the brand from the inside out, and create a connection between the company and the customer.
Frankie McDermott, the director of customer ...
<p>I’m an energy-efficiency aficionada, and, sadly, the last time I was in Best Buy looking for a TV, I wasn’t thinking about efficiency, at least not at first. My message? Retailers need to rethink how they pitch high-efficiency products to consumers because, let’s face it: When it comes to certain products, most consumers won’t pass over a sweet high-tech TV just to go green.</p>
The days are getting progressively (and noticeably) longer and warmer; the snow is melting and the first signs of spring are budding and blooming here in Colorado. For me, all these signs are indicative of two things: Swimsuit season will soon be upon us and utilities will be releasing the results of their 2012 demand-side management (DSM) programs. Now, how in the world could I possibly link such disparate occasions like bathing-suit season and the release of DSM results? Actually, they have some surprisingly similar attributes. Let’s examine.
- The conspicuous: Swimsuit season and releasing annual DSM program results generally fall within a similar time frame—March to October.
- The behind-the-scenes: Much like analyzing the performance of efficiency programs, swimsuit season is usually only stressful for those intimately involved.
- The undeniable: Both occasions require an unbiased examination of last year’s performance. There’s usually a moment when we must “true-up.” Sometimes truing-up happens later in the summer, when we realize that last year wasn’t really as good as we thought (or ...
Responsible companies find ways to create a positive impact on their employees, their stakeholders, the community, the environment, and, of course, the bottom line. Working at an energy-efficiency research company, it’s obviously important for us to “walk the talk”—I mean, just look at our move to a new retrofitted building with energy-efficiency measures galore! However, responsible companies do more than just manage their energy consumption.
I was encouraged by the recent article from Triple Pundit titled, 5 Quick Ways to Identify a Responsible Company. One of the recommendations is to acquire a B Corp certification, which B Corp defines as a “new type of corporation which uses the power of business to solve social and environmental problems.” As a member of the E Source Green Team, I’m excited to help move our company toward the adoption of sustainable business practices so that someday we can become part of the more than 700 B Corp–certified businesses that are “doing good while making a profit.”
E Source already has some great sustainable business practices in place, but we wanted to ...
We often hear from utility marketing professionals wondering if a particular campaign or communication channel is a good use of money or a wasted investment. Though it would be nice if we could reply with an answer as simple as “e-mail marketing works, but mass media advertising doesn’t,” the truth is that, of course, it all depends on many factors. The only way for a utility to know which marketing strategies are working and which are a waste of money is to measure results from each campaign: If campaign costs are lower than the value of conversions, then the return on investment (ROI) will be positive.
Although many utilities face business challenges that are unique to the industry, such as a monopoly environment, it’s still possible to make the ROI calculation of campaign costs compared with conversion value—in fact, it’s essential for increasing utility profits. Rather than being a cost center, the utility marketing department is actually an investment opportunity that will allow utilities to sustain growth long into the future. From my research into this topic and my background in marketing for other industries, I can say with a ...
My colleague passed along a Greentech Media article about a survey that was conducted to assess residential awareness of the phaseout of incandescent lightbulbs. The article states that 29 percent of US households are no longer using incandescent bulbs in their homes and reports a “slow but steady shift when it comes to consumer attitudes toward lighting” with an uptick in the use of light-emitting diodes (LEDs). Because the survey was conducted on a small scale, with more variability around a given percentage, I was curious about energy-efficient lighting trends when looking through a more comprehensive lens. Given that I love to “play” with data, and I just happen to have one of the most robust datasets on US household energy use available at my fingertips, I immediately began analyzing our data on compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) and LED saturation.
So, what’s the scoop? According to our survey data, the proportion of US households using at least one CFL or LED lightbulb in their homes is on the rise, as is the percentage of households using multiple CFLs and LEDs. In fact, our data show that 87 percent of households are using at least one ...
A number of E Source members have asked us: How do other utilities organize their demand-side management (DSM) departments? Is there an “optimal” structure or an ideal location within a utility? As an E Source researcher, I sought to dig deeper into this issue by interviewing eight DSM department heads in 2009 and six in 2012 about their DSM department organization structures. Respondents represented 1 municipal utility and 11 investor-owned utilities, with departments that ranged in size from 5 to 300 staff members.
In my discussions with these department heads, I found that DSM organization structures differed for several reasons, including:
- Size of the utility and number of states served
- Regulatory influence
- Swift expansion in response to increasing DSM goals
- Outsourcing of program management or implementation
- Existence of advanced metering infrastructure
- Frequent reorganizations
Ultimately, this research led me to conclude that there’s no one “optimal” DSM department structure, which may be welcome news to those of you experiencing frequent reorganizations!...
We just wrapped up a big year for change in residential lighting: The US Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 (EISA) phaseout of general-service incandescent lamps began in 2012, and new lighting technology options like light-emitting diodes (LEDs) became more commonplace in programs.
In the past couple years, we’ve frequently heard utilities voice plans to shift incentives from basic compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) to specialty CFLs (like globes and reflectors). We’ve also expected increasing numbers of utilities and statewide efficiency organizations to offer incentives for LED bulbs at retail stores. To get a better sense of how residential lighting programs are changing, we reviewed the Energy Star Summary of Lighting Programs: September 2012 Update (PDF) as well as other industry resources.
Interestingly, our review of more than 70 residential lighting programs in the Energy Star Summary revealed that lighting programs still provide incentives for a wide variety of lighting product types—only a few programs focus incentives specifically on specialty bulbs and LEDs. And there’s still a lot of opportunity for programs to get ...
I’ve got two videos you need to watch in those fleeting moments between meetings. These advertisements were produced by BC Hydro’s Team Power Smart in support of its groundbreaking residential and business programs, and they’ll give you a feel for what will happen at the 5th Annual E Source Utility Marketing Conference:
- Ridiculous Waste at Home and at Work
- Chickens to Paralyze
I expect two things to happen after you watch these. First (and this is a guarantee), you’ll get odd looks from your co-workers as you try to stifle a belly laugh. And second—I’m making a pretty well-educated guess here—you’ll forward the videos to your boss with a great new idea for using humor and information to market your programs and enhance your brand.
You won’t get odd looks, but you can expect both laughter and ideas at the Utility Marketing Conference (and the jointly held 2nd Annual E Source Utility Customer Experience Conference), which is being held April 3 and 4 in San Diego. If there’s a single thing that has made our conference so successful, it’s the intensity of the group’s ...