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.
Do you want to create and manage effective energy-efficiency (EE) programs for your small and midsize business (SMB) customers? Do you want to suggest technologies and energy-saving opportunities that SMB customers are most likely to participate in? Do you want to market these programs to your customers in a way that instills trust in your organization? Based on conversations I’ve had with some of you, I think you might. And if you don't, you will after finding out that E Source data can help inform your marketing and targeting strategies.
That’s why E Source analyzed primary market-research data from the Small and Midsize Business Gap and Priority Benchmark survey to develop a series of sector-specific marketing profiles. The survey data represent a geographically diverse group of SMB customers from 16 utilities across the US. The profiles are designed to help utility marketers better understand and more effectively target different types of SMB consumers for successful marketing of efficiency programs and energy-saving opportunities.
For example, when asked the question “Compared to managing your other business expenses, how important ...
I want to congratulate the Top 10 utilities using social media! These utilities were selected by their peers in the 2013 E Source Utility Social Media Survey as being leaders in social media. To get a better sense of why they deserve this recognition, check out their social media links below and read some comments from the survey.
- Pacific Gas & Electric Co. (PG&E)
- Alabama Power/Southern Company
- Avista Utilities
- Southern California Edison (SCE)
- Duke Energy
- BC Hydro
- Baltimore Gas and Electric Co. (BGE)
Survey respondents said this about Dominion’s social media efforts:
- “Willingness to push the envelope and content that always strives to be relevant”
- “A solid all-around performer”
- “Great outage communications and on-site photos during major events” ...
I continue to soak in the industry developments I see that are increasingly challenging the traditional utility business model. I’ve written about these drivers before, and others are eloquently addressing them, but just in case some readers aren’t familiar with them, I’m talking about the increased demand response, energy efficiency, distributed generation (DG), and renewables integration that are causing utility revenues to flatten—if not decline.
Dark-red, conservative, rural central Pennsylvania and blue-as-blue-can-be, liberal Boulder, Colorado: These are the two places I’ve lived in my life (so far). America’s political landscape sure doesn’t get much more polarized than that. In both of these places, I’ve worked with countless numbers of highly intelligent people who represent positions all along the political spectrum. These people have incredibly diverse backgrounds, passions, and interests, but we were brought together in our work for one common goal: energy efficiency.
While benchmarking 39 on-bill financing offerings for an E Source report, I learned four fast facts:
- One-third of utility financing packages are of the on-bill variety, where monthly loan payments are set up through customers’ utility bills.
- On-bill tariff programs, in which the debt obligation resides with the meter rather than the customer, are on the rise. Nearly one-third of the programs we examined were on-bill tariff.
- Single-family residential customers have the greatest access to on-bill financing offerings; multifamily customers have the least.
- Three-quarters of on-bill financing offerings have bill-neutrality requirements in which monthly bills are set up to make customers’ cash flow neutral or positive.
For more of the juicy details we uncovered, E Source Efficiency and Demand-Response Programs Service members can check out part one of the benchmarking results, titled Utility On-Bill Financing: A Profile, which examines how different on-bill offerings are structured. And stay tuned for the sequel report later in 2013 that will benchmark the impacts of these on-bill financing packages....
By way of housekeeping, I’m Peter Haid, the newest E Source team member, and I’m writing this blog on my ninth day on the job (yikes!). What is my job? I’m a research practice director who’s honored to help serve all of our members with their customer experience and marketing needs. I’ve been told that one of the reasons I was selected for the position is because I bring some experience from outside the utility industry, but trust me, I’m learning by fire hose every day.
In general, administrators of public energy-efficiency programs expect and welcome feedback from various business and public interest organizations as well as members of the community concerning the design and delivery of their programs. We’ve heard from our member utilities that these meetings can either be productive or a waste of time. In an effort to advance the demand-side management (DSM) industry, we’ve presented some best practices for gathering public input for utility DSM programs in the report called Incorporating Stakeholder Input into DSM Activities. This report is based primarily on case studies from Avista Utilities and Xcel Energy Colorado.
We also dedicated an entire session to this topic at our February 2013 DSM Executive Council meeting, where 20 leaders of utility DSM departments gathered for one and a half days of roundtable discussions. The consensus was that DSM executives value input from participants in the stakeholder process because up-front input and agreement can accelerate regulatory approvals. Utilities definitely appreciate when commission staff attends so they can listen to and gain various perspectives before a formal hearing....
Energy policy in Washington: “It’s even worse than you think.”
Those are the words former Governor Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) spoke to a group of energy professionals on Wednesday, April 24, to kick off the 20th Annual E Source Energy Managers’ Roundtable in Boulder, Colorado. His message: Don’t hold your breath for Congress to pass any meaningful legislation on energy in the next four years—it’s not going to happen. Instead, he called on states and the business community to lead the charge.
According to Ritter, state policies on efficiency and renewables are trumping the feds’ ability to act. This was certainly true of Colorado when I worked at the Governor’s Energy Office under Ritter from 2008 to 2011: Ritter’s vision of a new energy economy got legislators talking and thinking about energy and the economy synonymously. And it was this message and political thinking that made companies like wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas choose to set up shop in the state.
After leaving office in 2011, Governor Ritter founded the Center for the New Energy Economy (CNEE), a privately funded organization with roots ...
It’s been a wild week at the E Source Energy Managers’ Roundtable. From building energy analytics and information technologies to deep energy retrofits and behavior-change strategies, we covered a lot of ground in just a few short days. I was impressed this week by the level of engagement of attendees and the high-quality information that was shared at each session. Today was no different; the two morning sessions were jam-packed with useful and actionable information.
An all–E Source panel kicked things off this morning with a session on energy-efficiency upgrades to the new E Source office building. Peter Criscione presented on his experience working on the building’s new rooftop units. E Source staff originally requested evaporative cooling units for the building, but the contractors working on the renovation were uncomfortable with the technology. The second choice—single-zone variable-air-volume units—were installed and are expected to provide relatively efficient space conditioning for the new building.
Ira Krepchin showcased the new building’s light-emitting diode (LED) troffers, lighting controls, and daylighting ...
Here at E Source, I often think of ourselves as being at the forest’s edge. We serve multiple business types in the large-scale energy services space, from utilities and end users to third-party service providers. Even though we get deep amid the trees with our customers, we always try to make sure that we’re seeing the forest in any answer we provide or report we write. We try to balance those forest and trees perspectives.
During day one of the 2013 Energy Managers’ Roundtable, we sat right at that edge in a high-level session between the top energy managers in the US and David Eves, the CEO of Xcel Energy’s Colorado electric and gas utility. For an hour, members of the E Source Energy Managers’ Network engaged in a strategic discussion with Eves that covered everything from stranded generation assets, grid infrastructure upgrades, and utility-owned behind-the-meter demand generation to utility workforce turnover. In a sense, the session ended up being a two-way focus group, with a top energy supplier entity and top energy users both benefiting greatly.
My personal highlight was when Eves directly asked the 30 energy managers, “Who ...