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.
Today is CX Day, a global celebration of the companies and professionals who create great experiences for their customers. As CEO of E Source, I see CX Day as an opportunity to reflect on the people who make my job so rewarding—our customers. At E Source, it’s our job to get ahead of the curve on behalf of our customers so they can get ahead of the curve on behalf of theirs. We want to help our customers better engage in a dynamic and ever-changing industry. At the intersection of distributed energy, demand-side management, and customer experience (CX), we see an opportunity to positively transform the relationships that utilities have with their customers. And we want to be there to make sure that transformation is a smashing success—both for our customers and for their customers.
When it comes to designing your website, putting your customers’ goals ahead of the organization’s is a best practice that can pay off in spades. One of the ways to ensure that your utility develops a website that customers will use is to recruit a few of them to perform a task analysis. A hospital asked some reviewers to click around on its website to learn how they used and interacted with it. Using their feedback, the hospital revamped its site and saw measurable success. Read more about this real-life case study in customer-focused web design.
The costs that the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) can place on your organization is the stuff nightmares are made of. With $500 on the line for each mistaken outbound call or text, the fines can add up quickly. Our recent report provides background on the regulation and offers strategies that can help your utility avoid pricey litigation.
Not long ago, it was my job at a nearby utility to increase participation in our paperless billing program. It didn’t take long for me to be humbled by the challenge. Now that I’m a researcher at E Source, I can analyze which strategies and tactics are best for increasing utility paperless billing enrollment rates, and I can provide guidance on how to implement those initiatives. In our recent report about e-billing adoption, we’ve attempted to do just that. Read the report to get recommendations on how to boost paperless billing uptake and learn how some utilities have found success. I wish I had had the insights years ago.
Utilities use large-scale batteries for a wide variety of applications, such as shifting excess supply to times of higher demand, regulating frequency, supporting voltage, deferring transmission and distribution upgrades, and relieving congestion. Although many electric storage products are available to utilities, lithium-ion batteries are becoming more popular. If Tesla can deliver batteries at an installed price of $1,000 per kilowatt (kW) or less, it has a good chance of competing in the grid-scale storage market.
Tesla Energy’s Powerpack product is designed for large-scale commodity markets and features a capacity of 100 kilowatt-hours. To reduce monthly demand charges, the Powerpack and similar batteries charge up during times of low demand and discharge during peak times. Using these batteries for demand-charge management is fetching good results in places like California and New York, where state and local utilities collaborate to offer incentives. But as battery prices decline, many battery vendors will expand their operations to other states.
Utility nation, you’ve been there. A radical reorg, an identity crisis, a changing set of demands. And now you’re wondering: Is it time for a rebrand? Recently, Google underwent a massive reorganization, during which the company’s delightfully bookish logo shed its serifs for a streamlined new look. But the change affected more than the logo; it got us talking about the digital future and Google-enabled cars. Imagine if your utility could remove the swoosh on your logo and get your customers thinking about a future powered by a company whose leadership and vision they trust, feel they know, and would allow into facets of their lives that had up until now been seen as deeply personal or tied to their individual freedom. Let’s start talking about that.
Residential backup batteries store power to be used when utility power is unavailable. The Tesla Energy 10-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Powerwall battery is a good choice for this application, but so are natural gas generators, which have a few advantages over the Powerwall. Why, then, do I think Tesla will not only compete in this market, but expand it? Read on.
It’s widely hypothesized that utility customers who participate in time-of-use (TOU) rate plans will use Tesla batteries to store off-peak power, either from the utility or from solar panels, and sell it to the utility during peak periods. But despite the widespread attention it’s gotten, this application—which is known as TOU arbitrage—is unlikely to be a big hit any time soon, for two reasons. First, few utilities allow it. Second, the revenue it can produce is minuscule compared to the cost of the battery.
Despite much hype to the contrary, Tesla Motors’ new line of stationary lithium-ion batteries will likely not be used by homeowners who combine them with solar panels and escape the grid. Instead, three other applications present the company with far more potential. This is the first part of a five-part series that investigates these applications, as well as one more widely discussed application that’s unlikely to find wide success.