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.
As the new US administration takes shape and threatens to scrap the Clean Power Plan and our commitment to the Paris Agreement, there’s never been a more important time to step up our efficiency activities and bolster the over $9 billion we spend annually on efficiency across North America. The majority of this funding is controlled at the state level, not the federal, so states should continue their important work in energy efficiency, vastly accelerating investments where possible. E Source remains your partner in this ongoing effort, and we’re here to help.
Eight more states voted in favor of legalized marijuana. In all, 28 US states now permit people to use marijuana medically, and 8 states plus the District of Columbia allow citizens 21 and older to use pot recreationally. That means roughly 47 million people over the age of 21 are now living in a state where recreational marijuana use is legal. This sweeping movement to change the legal status of cannabis is spreading nationwide more quickly than industry observers expected. The result has been a rapid growth in business activities related to pot cultivation that will have major implications on energy consumption and will present resource and reliability challenges for many utilities. Is your utility ready?
My home’s energy efficiency got a huge boost after making some critical improvements. I wouldn’t have known to make these changes if it weren’t for an assessment that calculated my Home Energy Score, which made me aware of all of the ways my home was wasting energy. The Home Energy Score, a tool developed by the US Department of Energy for use by utilities, is just one way utilities help customers rank and compare their consumption. Energy data analytics firms like OPower and WattzOn partner with utilities to help customers monitor their energy usage and compare their consumption with that of similarly sized homes. Getting customers to think about their home as an energy-consuming unit can make them aware of the investment opportunities that will reap the most substantial savings on their energy bill.
If you’re like me and have noticed that energy topics have been conspicuously absent from the election cycle, then you’ll be as excited as I am that E Source just received data on energy-related customer actions and perceptions! This brand-spankin’-new 2016 data comes from the Nielsen Energy Behavior Track survey, conducted in partnership with E Source, which gathers information from roughly 32,000 residential customers from across the US. Check out our loaded-with-data infographic about how Republicans, Democrats, and independents feel about energy issues.
It’s a cliché these days to say that the energy industry is experiencing a paradigm shift, so I won’t belabor the point. But if utilities are going to succeed in this unfamiliar environment, they need to listen to their customers and act on what they hear. With the right enterprise feedback management strategy, utilities get all their customer (and employee) feedback in one repository; the ability to conduct analysis that combines multiple research inputs into a single perspective; and quick visibility into what needs to change in real time to improve the customer experience.
The office was as quiet as a crypt. All of a sudden, I heard a blood-curdling shriek pierce the silence. A coworker began wailing like a banshee; her worst nightmare had come true. Spotify, Reddit, and the New York Times had been taken offline by a distributed denial-of-service (DDOS) attack. At fault was a Mirai botnet that possessed millions of Internet-connected devices to create a zombie army. Even though utilities are using these potentially vulnerable Internet-of-Things devices in efficiency programs, there are steps companies can take to keep gremlins from wreaking havoc.
Ever wonder why that utility bill is so high? It could be your old fridge that’s bleeding your wallet. Utilities know this, which is why many have refrigerator-recycling programs to incentivize customers to switch to newer, more-energy-efficient models that don’t shred through energy and will help slash that electricity bill. But for many utilities, refrigerator-recycling programs have been a nightmare as the value of these programs decreases each year. A new E Source report details the ways utilities can continue to offer refrigerator-recycling programs to their customers.
Earlier this month we told you how nearly two dozen E Sourcers spent an afternoon harvesting seeds from native plants along St. Vrain Creek to help with ongoing flood recovery efforts in Boulder County. At the same time, Bryan Jungers, an E Source researcher based in Patagonia, Arizona, was doing the same thing in his Southwest community. Why do we do it? Because volunteerism supports our corporate sustainability goals; it provides physical and mental health benefits for those who volunteer; and, darn it, it’s just the right thing to do!
How are space travel and energy-efficiency programs related? If you think about it, finding ways to increase energy efficiency for businesses is like developing a reusable rocket—both projects allow us to save money and accomplish our wildest dreams (assuming your dream is getting businesses to participate in energy-efficient measures—and who doesn’t have that dream?). Though Tesla’s Elon Musk and other visionary billionaires are investing their time and capital in pushing the human limits of space exploration, utilities are coming up with innovative DSM programs to push the limits of energy efficiency for their commercial customers.
Electric vehicles (EVs) pose a tremendous opportunity for electric utilities, one that will likely revolutionize the utility industry in my lifetime. That said, we’re a long way from EVs taking over the roads; one of the biggest barriers continues to be a lack of EV education and awareness. So I offer you this: Become an EVangelist at your utility and educate utility employees, customers, and local dealerships about EVs and EV programs.