APPA webinar series offers strategies to modernize customer relations

Oct. 31 and Nov. 16
12-1:30 pm MT

As more and more businesses offer instant, effective and personalized communication, customers are naturally going to expect their power providers to do the same—and that is in addition to all the other challenges facing the utility industry.

Web-based customer engagement programs and activities offer public power utilities a way to build ongoing interactive connections with consumers. The American Public Power Association (APPA) is inviting utilities to learn about these opportunities with Customer Engagement: New Tools and Strategies for Modernizing Customer Relations, You are leaving WAPA.gov. a two-part webinar series beginning Oct. 31.

The material is designed to showcase the potential of online solutions for a broad range of utility professionals, from senior executives to renewable and energy service program managers to customer service representatives. Public communications professionals and information and operations technology personnel will also benefit from the webinars.

Oct. 31 – Boosting Community Solar Program Success Through Customer Engagement explores the often misunderstood and undervalued process of strategic, long-term customer engagement and management.

The success of a utility community solar project depends on keeping subscribers happy and committed to the program. Utilities with active community solar programs or those considering implementing one will not want to miss this webinar. Presentations will examine some engagement strategies and tools needed to improve the customer experience while saving valuable internal team resources and bandwidth. Attendees will gain a greater understanding of how to best prepare their teams to transition smoothly to the evolving world at the grid edge.

Nov. 16 – Using Online Customer Engagement Strategies to Improve Satisfaction and Program Participation looks at best practices and lessons learned from implementing digital communications strategies such as personal energy forecasting and customer service representative applications.

Public power officials will use case studies to present proven strategies for using a variety of digital platforms to build customer relationships and drive up energy program participation. Speakers will also address how to create a web presence and digital strategy that will appeal to customers under 35.

The registration for each webinar is $99 for APPA members and $199 for non-members. A discount is available for registering for both webinars, however you can register for the individual events. APPA will be recording the webinars and making them available for playback later in case enrollees miss the live event.

Source: American Public Power Association, 9/25/17

ACEEE blog series explores energy-efficiency investments in US

Stacks of American dollar billsEnergy efficiency is a big and growing business with $231 billion invested globally in 2016, according to an estimate by the International Energy Agency You are leaving WAPA.gov. (IEA). The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) used the release of the IEA Worldwide Investment report in July as a springboard to examine how much the United States invests in energy efficiency, what is driving that investment and how it could be increased.

We spend how much?
The first blog post, How Many Billions do US Businesses and Individuals Invest in Energy Efficiency Each Year?You are leaving WAPA.gov. gave $41 billion as the estimated figure for efficiency spending in our country. This was the first year that the IEA report gave a separate estimate for the U.S., but spending was not broken out by sector. Based on the worldwide estimate, about 58 percent of that spending is for buildings, 26 percent for transportation and 16 percent for industry.

Drawing on other spending reports to get a clearer picture, ACEEE concludes that our energy-efficiency investments may actually range from $60 billion to $115 billion annually. This wide-ranging estimate results from different studies employing different measurement methods and parameters. However, additional research by ACEEE and by the U.S. Green Building Council You are leaving WAPA.gov. suggest this range is reasonable.

Policy appears to be the primary driver in energy-efficiency investments, with building codes and appliance and vehicle standards responsible for about $20 billion worth. “Spillover” occurs when policies and programs, such as utility incentives and customer programs, indirectly influence consumer decisions.

Reasons why
Other factors driving the decision to invest in energy efficiency include income and education levels among residential consumers and type of industry for business customers.

Who Invests in Energy Efficiency and Why?, the second blog post, cites a survey by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showing that large firms are more likely to engage in energy management activities than small companies. Businesses participating in the Shelton Group’s 2016 B2B Pulse study You are leaving WAPA.gov. rated how important sustainability and conservation were to their company’s operating and capital expenditure decisions. Commercial real estate development and property management were the industry groups that gave energy issues the most consideration.

The EIA’s 2015 Residential Energy Consumption Survey found that consumers with higher incomes are more likely to make energy-efficiency investments large enough to be eligible for federal energy-efficiency tax credits. Smaller investments, such as new lightbulbs, do not appear to be affected by consumer income. Another study found an education effect along with the income effect, but income and education are usually closely related. Households that have moved within the last three years spend more on efficiency improvements, as do younger families.

The reasons commercial customers offer for making efficiency upgrades, while not unexpected, show a subtle shift in priorities. From the Shelton Group study, business customers cited “energy savings or other cost reductions” as the leading motivation for investing in efficiency. Although concern about climate change ranked toward the bottom of the list, the percentage of respondents that mentioned it has nearly doubled in the last year.

Saving on electric bills also topped the reasons residential customers gave for undertaking energy-efficiency improvements at 61 percent. Making the home more comfortable followed with 35 percent and making the home healthier was mentioned by 27 percent of respondents. Taken together, comfort and safety are an equal consideration to financial concerns. The study recommends focusing homeowners on both the financial and non-financial benefits of energy efficiency to explain the value of their investment.

Let’s do more
The final post addresses the question on every utility program manager’s mind—How Can we Increase Energy Efficiency Investments?—and offers 10 suggestions to make it happen. According to ACEEE, only about one-quarter of households and businesses implement efficiency upgrades, in spite of the benefits.

The suggestions focus on expanding what is already working, while remaining open to new approaches. More measurement and benchmarking could help program providers identify successful programs and help customers see the value of energy-efficiency improvements. The article also recommends seeking partnerships with real estate, financial and construction industries to reach consumers through different channels.

Energy-efficiency investments were 8-9 percent higher in 2016 than in 2015. The ACEEE blog series offers some starting points to help utilities keep the momentum going. Energy Services looks forward to hearing about your ideas for getting more results from your existing programs and for creative new service offerings.

Source: American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

WAPA customers excel in energy competition

The Georgetown University Energy Prize You are leaving WAPA.gov. is making WAPA feel like parents of talented children who are playing the same sport but are all on different teams. We know there can be only one winner but we are rooting for all of them and, of course, we are as proud as we can be of their accomplishments.

Among the 50 communities competing are WAPA municipal customers Fort Collins and Aspen, ColoradoYou are leaving WAPA.gov. and Palo Alto, California. The three cities are now in the semifinalist stage of the multi-year competition to reduce their electric and gas consumption in a sustainable and replicable way.logo-large250aspenenergychallenge400

To enter the contest, each community submitted a long-term energy-saving plan with commitments to policies and projects by residential associations, governments, institutions or businesses in the community. In the fourth stage, beginning January 2017, finalists will be selected for their energy-saving performance over the previous two years. The criteria also include innovation, potential for replication, likely future performance and program accessibility for all residents. The judging panel will choose the winner from this group to receive a $5-million prize to use to further their community energy plans.

Motivations beyond money
WAPA customers competing for the prize have a track record of designing successful energy-saving programs and engaging customers. It makes sense that they would put that experience to work to earn a $5-million prize to further their efforts, but there are other reasons for competing, too.

It is all about the data for the city of Aspen, acknowledged Utilities Efficiency Specialist Ryland French during his presentation at the Rocky Mountain Utility Efficiency Exchange. “The information we collect will be normalized based on weather, population and other factors,” he explained. “It will give us an aggregate look at community energy use that we didn’t have before.”

Fort Collins Utilities has been pursuing aggressive energy efficiency and greenhouse gas mitigation goals for several years now, and the ramped-up time scale of the competition provided an excuse to pilot new innovative programs. “We are coming at it from a research perspective,” said Project Manager Katy Bigner. “It gives us another way to drive greater community involvement in achieving our Climate Action Plan.”

Get community involved
Since both cities already had active programs for reducing energy use, it made marketing sense to rebrand the competition with a local name. “We wanted to leverage community pride,” said French. “Highlighting the competition with other cities helped to create enthusiasm.”

So the GUEP became the Aspen Energy Challenge You are leaving WAPA.gov. in Aspen and Lose-a-Watt You are leaving WAPA.gov. in Fort Collins.

To its established foundation of energy coaching, home audits and rebates, Aspen added outreach tailored to specific community segments. Program promotion material for home audits pictured city residents who had actually received the assessments, allowing customers to see that their neighbors were participating. A school district-wide retrofit project of lighting and controls became a teaching tool and turned students into advocates for energy conservation.

Working with the Poudre School District has been central to Fort Collins’s strategy, as well. “We’ve focused on small education programs, because when you get kids excited about something, they run home and tell their parents,” said Bigner.

The city also enlisted a sorority from Colorado State University for a “Porchlight Campaign.” Sorority sisters walked through neighborhoods making note of homes that had incandescent bulbs in their porch fixtures. The students would talk to the homeowners and offer to replace the conventional lights with compact fluorescent lamps.

More than one way to tell story
Outreach is a challenge for all utilities, whether competing for a multi-million dollar prize or just trying to get customers to sign up for a new demand response program. Aspen and Fort Collins pursued some proven strategies, like engaging students, but used the competition to experiment with different approaches too.

For Aspen, success came from taking a simple message and spreading it through as many avenues as possible, appealing to many different motivations. When a promotion offering residents a free Nest thermostat was “leaked,” only two people called. However, when the offer was officially announced in the city’s email newsletter, 30 homeowners called before 9 a.m. to get their Nest.

The free home energy assessment program was another offer that didn’t take off until the second announcement. “The first time we promoted it was before the Aspen Energy Challenge branding,” French recalled. “We put the offer in community partner e-newsletters and from mid-March to May 2015, only 50 people signed up for audits.”

By August 2016, when the city offered the second round of free home energy audits, the Aspen Energy Challenge was well established. The offer appeared in the competition’s dedicated newsletter, as well as, newspaper and radio ads, on the Energy Challenge website, posters, social media, local television, events and more. “We talked generally not just about saving energy and money, but also about being green, joining the community, competing for the Prize, comfort, health and safety and tech trends,” said French.

Customers claimed all 25 free audits in only seven days, so Aspen continued to promote audits at the regular incentive level of $100 after the rebate. “We had enough traction in the community that there were 24 more sign-ups over the last three weeks of August,” he said. “They were attracted by the free offer, but continued to participate after the free audits ran out.”

Fort Collins decided to come up with a marketing campaign that differed from the one it had used prior to the competition. “We are not only testing out innovative programs, we are looking at different ways to market them, too,” Bigner said.

A sociologist the utility consulted had done research that indicated people find open-ended calls to action confusing. “When you say, ‘turn down your thermostat,’ people don’t really know how much they need to make a difference,” she pointed out. “The marketing campaign is focused on taking specific steps to cut down on energy use, and then moving to the next level.”

The contest website provides visitors with an interactive chart that categorizes actions as easy, medium or advanced, and includes steps for renters and home owners, different home systems and appliances. For example, easy steps for lighting include turning lights off when not in use and replacing conventional incandescent bulbs with one of the newer, high-efficiency options. Advanced measures include buying large appliances, installing solar thermal or photovoltaic systems and investing in building shell upgrades. The chart indicates measures for which rebates are available.

Creating competition between businesses has paid off for the utility. Although the contest does not count energy savings by business customers, businesses can compete with each other to see how much energy their employees can save at home. Lose a Watt created the Workwise Challenge to get local businesses within the city limits involved. Employees install a Home Conservation Kit the program supplies, and then tell their stories on the website. Participating businesses earn recognition and employees have the chance to win prizes. The strategy has resulted in an 86,000 kilowatt-hours in savings.

Some things work
As the end of Stage 3 of the competition draws near (Dec. 31), contestants have had time to evaluate some of their strategies and draw a few conclusions.

Working with school districts was a success for both utilities, showing once again that it is never too soon to reach out to tomorrow’s consumers.

Affordable housing energy upgrades proved especially successful in Aspen, a resort community with a large demographic of seasonal workers. “We were able to do 400 units in only a couple of months. The key was focusing on the process and working with the city council and county commission,” French recalled.

The utility matched the upgrades with outreach to tenants and landlords. “Seasonal tenants can’t be expected to know what 0 through 5 on a radiator dial means in terms of actual temperature, or what to do if the solar thermal system on a unit isn’t working,” French said. “To maintain the gains from the upgrades, we had to educate the people who lived in the buildings and managed them.”

In addition to the success of the business competition, streamlining its energy-efficiency upgrade program for homeowners has been a success for Fort Collins. “We walk the customer through the whole process from audit to completion,” said Bigner.

Others, not so much
Having a chance to pilot new ideas and find out more about what makes consumers tick has been a frequently cited motive for participating in the Georgetown University Energy Prize. The participating utilities already have lessons under their belts, some a surprise and others not.

Aspen is a city of large vacation homes and those homeowners are an especially tough audience for a message of energy efficiency. “We have tried promoting the competition through the food and wine festival, peer pressure, talking about savings and reaching out to property managers. No luck,” French admitted.

He added that Park City, Utah, another competitor with a similar demographic profile, was having the same problem.

Given the number of young consumers in the college town, Fort Collins thought the Joule-Bug gaming application might be a good way to engage customers in saving energy. “It turned out to be good for only about a year,” Bigner noted. “It required too much effort to sustain over the two years of competition.”

Enlisting energy leaders to promote the competition through social networking was another strategy that ultimately offered to little savings for the effort it required, she said.

Crowdfunding to help a low-income customer make home efficiency improvements was another idea that didn’t pan out. “We raised only $200 to help a single-mother schoolteacher. But I think that approach might still be successful for a nonprofit or faith- based organization, for example,” Bigner observed.

After the finish line
Whoever wins the Georgetown University Energy Prize, the participants can look forward to gaining solid data about their customers’ energy use, along with a clearer idea of what drives customer engagement.

After being judged for their performance in Stage 3, the selected finalists will submit a report on how their programs supported the community’s plan and how they can be applied to longer-term strategies. “We expect to be able to learn plenty from the other participants,” said Bigner.

While a $5-million prize would be great—especially if a WAPA customer wins it—the lessons that come from the competition may well be the greatest prize, and consumers and utilities alike will be winners.

Home of Utility Energy Forum gets efficiency facelift

36th annual Utility Energy Forum
May 4-6, 2016
Tahoe City, California

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

Artwork by the Utility Energy Forum

The Utility Energy Forum You are leaving WAPA.gov. (UEF) generates a lot of ideas about energy efficiency and management, and it seems to have rubbed off on Granlibakken TahoeYou are leaving WAPA.gov. the event’s most frequent host. When the premier networking event for utility program managers in western states meets May 4-6, it will be in Placer County, California’s showcase project for the Better Buildings Challenge.

“The Transformed Utility: Connecting for Success” is the theme for the 36th annual UEF. “So it’s fitting that the forum is taking place in a facility that has recently undergone an efficiency transformation,” observed Western Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman. “Energy efficiency is going to be a critical component in tackling the challenges utilities are facing.”

“We started focusing on transformation as a theme last year because so much is changing so fast in our industry,” acknowledge Mary Medeiros McEnroe, Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. Public Benefit Program manager and UEF president. “We need to be looking at the future, to see where we need to go with customer service and technology.”

Placer County demonstrated that forward-looking spirit when it took the Better Buildings Challenge. The upgrade combined innovative financing, public-private partnerships and high-tech solutions to reduce Granlibakken’s energy consumption by up to 43 percent. “That is the kind of flexibility and creative thinking utilities will need to meet new mandates and shifting customer expectations,” said Horstman.

Agenda highlights big issues
Those topics and more appear throughout the UEF agenda and in the pre-forum workshop for utilities and government representatives only. Eligible attendees voted on the issues they will be discussing Wednesday morning prior to the UEF kickoff. Their leading concerns include how utilities can benefit from energy storage technology, measuring energy savings from water conservation and the new roles being thrust on utilities. “One of the reasons the UEF has grown so much over the past few years is the work the planning committee has done in reaching out to identify relevant topics,” noted McEnroe.”

The forum officially opens with a keynote address by Sue Kelly, president of the American Public Power Association, on possibilities for incorporating new technologies and services into their customer service options. The afternoon continues with the strategic policy panel discussion, co-chaired by Modesto Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. Energy Services Supervisor Bob Hondeville. “Co-chairing different panels is always interesting and educational for me,” said the UEF veteran. “It is rewarding to be able to have a dialogue with the speakers and introduce relevant topics to the discussion.”

The second morning of the UEF begins with a session on communicating thermostats. “Customers are asking for the thermostats and other smart tools, while utilities are still figuring out how to design effective programs with them,” said Medeiros McEnroe, who is chairing the session. “There is definitely a learning curve for both parties. I’m looking forward to hearing what Energy Star has to say about the technology.”

Vanessa Lara of Merced Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. is co-chairing the “customer’s view” session later that day. The panel includes Ron Parson of Granlibakken Management Company, who will be discussing their retrofitting experience.

Technology is the subject of afternoon sessions, exploring the latest in programs and tools to improve building design, retrofitting and energy audits. Attendees will also learn about demand response, supply- and demand-side management resources, as well as advances in electric vehicle and heating and cooling technologies. The final day features deeper explorations of specific systems and equipment.

Greening up networking
Much of Granlibakken’s energy savings are coming from replacing obsolete refrigerators, dishwashers and stove-hood exhaust systems with energy-efficient models. So the informal networking over great meals and snacks—where so many important connections are made—is now an energy saver, too. Consider that a good excuse to enjoy an extra dessert or appetizer.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room.

Many partnerships, plans and programs have been hatched over the excellent meals in the Granlibakken dining room. (Photo by Randy Martin)

Attendees will also enjoy sessions and events like the networking reception and the “Any Port in a Storm” port wine tasting in newly efficient comfort. Automated heating and air conditioning systems were installed to increase the efficiency of the facility’s natural gas boilers. You can leave your suits at home—the UEF is still a business casual function—but you may want to bring your swimwear and gym gear to make use of the resort’s fitness facilities.

The most important thing to bring to the Utility Energy Forum, however, is yourself: your ideas, your experience and your curiosity. “The UEF is unique in that it brings together people who are ready to build relationships and collaborate,” said Medeiros McEnroe. “I have come up with a number of partnerships with other utilities and service providers from past events.”

There is still time to register and, if you are a Western customer who is attending for the first time, to save some green. Western offers first-timers a small stipend to help offset the cost of the event. Contact Sandee Peebles, Audrey Colletti or Ron Horstman to learn more.

Storms attract new social media followers, engagement keeps them coming back

stormoptThere is nothing like an extreme weather event to build up your social media program. According to a recent story in Intelligent Utility, Redirecting to a non-government site customers turn to their utility’s website, Facebook page and Twitter feed during emergencies to get updates about power outages and restoration times. Once the lights are back on, however, you run the risk of losing your new followers if you do not figure out how to keep them engaged.

The article offers four steps for engaging social media users when the lights are on and the sky is blue—you know, most of the year. The best part is that these suggestions apply to any customer outreach program, high-tech or otherwise.

Choose your themes
Start by identifying message themes that are relevant to your customers’ daily lives—safety, energy efficiency and preparedness, for example. Then find experts inside your utility to provide information on those topics. Your communication with customers starts by keeping the lines open in your own organization. You should also reach out to partners in the community who do work related to your themes, such as police and fire departments, non-profits and the media. Cross promotion with their social media outlets will add variety to your message and strengthen your communications network in times of emergency.

Once you have a good flow of content, you need to organize it so that your followers get useful information in real time, in a way that makes sense to them. The article recommends building a content calendar that organizes messages by theme, date, time and platform. You can schedule “evergreen” items like seasonal efficiency tips and storm readiness in a regular rotation and reuse them with a little updating. A calendar will also give you the flexibility to respond to current events, such as accidents, with items that address your customers’ concerns.

Always look for the simplest way to communicate your message, especially in social media. Using pictures, videos, graphics and diagrams can help you break down your message to easy-to-understand pieces. And don’t think that “platform” refers only to electronic communications. Ask yourself if that newsletter story could be summed up in a few bullet points on a bill stuffer or in a well-written public service announcement on your local radio station.

Listen, listen some more
Because utility customers need electricity and can only get it from their utility—so far—it can be easy to forget that communication is a two-way street. Social media offers businesses a way to find out what their followers are saying and to engage them in dialogue. A customer may be more comfortable complaining on Facebook or tweeting his dissatisfaction than calling in a complaint. You can use that opening to start a conversation that ultimately resolves the issue and turns the follower into a loyal supporter.

The ability to engage with customers on a more personal level is a good argument for launching a social media program, but the old-fashioned way works, too. Place representatives at community events where they can meet customers face to face, and promote your annual customer meeting. Work with partner agencies to create fun, informative demonstrations to present at utility and partner events. Never pass up an opportunity to talk with your ratepayers and to look at your utility through their eyes.

Analyze, refine, repeat
A communicator’s work is never done, and every outreach plan is a work in progress. This is where social media makes its value known. You will be able to track trends, see which posts are getting attention and which are being ignored, and adjust your messaging accordingly.

In the pre-social media days, measuring the results of public outreach was notoriously difficult, but the old indicators can still tell you a thing or two. Train your representatives to pay attention to the questions customers ask at events or when they call your service desk, and to ask follow-up questions. What sounds like routine complaining about high utility bills may be a cry for more efficiency programs. Watch program participation figures—Do you get an uptick in interest in a particular program after promoting it? Without promoting it? Are customers dropping out of programs? Are they asking for something you are not offering?

Social media provides utilities with excellent new tools for improving customer communications, but the philosophy underlying the strategies is old-school. Figure out what the customer wants, deliver it to them in a timely and useful manner, follow up and use the feedback to improve the service. That is the proven formula for turning foul-weather followers into loyal and satisfied customers.

Source: Intelligent Utility, 3/25/15

Smart messaging inspires Glendale Water & Power customers to save energy

Talking to customers about controlling their energy use can make utilities feel like parents—you repeat yourself like a broken record and you suspect your audience is just rolling their eyes and tuning out your words of wisdom. Facing summer peaking season and historic drought, Glendale Water & PowerRedirecting to a non-government site (GWP) was determined to find fresh ways to engage its customers.

Fans cool people, not rooms. Please turn them off when you leave the room.

Participants in GWP’s customer engagement program see messages like this in an In-Home Energy display digital picture frame. The display also gives homeowners real-time energy use data to help them save energy and money. (Artwork by CEIVA Energy)

Partnering to reach goals
Home energy management supplier CEIVA EnergyRedirecting to a non-government site helped GWP develop a campaign that drew on communications techniques from none other than Disney Studios. Dean Schiller, who runs the company, is a former Disney executive. He recently shared several tips for successful story telling with Smart Grid News,Redirecting to a non-government site which included advice on being practical, topical, clever yet accessible, and relevant to consumers of all ages.

Those tips sound like a recipe for getting dialogue going with customers, which is what GWP had in mind when it formed the partnership with CEIVA Energy two years ago. Funding for the program came from grants GWP received from the U.S. Department of Energy and the California Energy Commissions to help fund the utility’s modernization programs.

Glendale Public Benefits Coordinator Atineh Haroutunian explained that the municipal utility had three goals for the program. “We wanted to increase our residential customers’ engagement and satisfaction, improve their awareness of energy and water use, and encourage conservation and shift use to off-peak hours,” she said.

Pilot program changes behavior
GWP launched the program in early 2013, deploying the platform in about 90 residences. The Homeview system collects data directly from the home’s digital meter, analyzes the information and converts it into compelling messages and visuals. The cloud service then dispatches these conservation messages to the homeowner on several platforms including a “glanceable” In Home Display in a digital picture frame.

The real-time energy-use data and conservation messages got the participants to take notice—and make changes. The information convinced one family that it was time to retire their energy-hog space heater. Another customer told Haroutunian that she placed the display near her children’s room to teach them about energy use in a concrete way.

GWP engaged an independent research company to evaluate the program. They found that 74 percent of customers recalled the conservation messages, and 88 percent of those who remembered the message liked it. Among program participants, awareness of hourly electricity costs grew by 85 percent after the deployment. After joining the pilot program, 83 percent of respondents said they changed their behavior to reduce energy and water use. Also, participants overwhelmingly reported that installing Homeview was easy, a critical but sometimes overlooked factor in program success.

Time to grow
Numbers like that spell success and persuaded GWP to expand its customer engagement program earlier this year. Using newsletters, direct mail and a little help from the local media,Redirecting to a non-government site GWP’s conservation team recruited 500 new customers to install the Homeview platform.

Conservation messages also remind customers that wasting water can cost as much as wasting electricity, (Artwork by CEIVA Energy)

Conservation messages also remind customers that wasting water can cost as much as wasting electricity, (Artwork by CEIVA Energy)

The utility worked with CEIVA Energy to craft conservation messages that align with its current priorities, such as saving water or managing air conditioning use. Throughout the day, customers see the messages as part of their picture rotation, along with information about how much energy they are using. GWP reinforces these messages by distributing them in social media and community outreach newsletters.

A new feature in Phase Two is the integration of a programmable thermostat with the Homeview display. “By tying specific heating and cooling behavior directly to energy use, we are giving customers one more tool to understand their habits and make changes that will reduce their energy costs even more,” Haroutunian said.

Benefits for all
The beauty of a successful customer program is that it is good for the utility that provides it, too. CEIVA Energy offers additional utility services that GWP can use to improve its operations and make future programs more effective. The Entryway smart meter integration software allows GWP to analyze home energy use, monitor home energy management devices and deliver residential demand response. Product licensing, implementation, integration, training and ongoing maintenance and service are part of the package, as well.

The most valuable outcome of the partnership, however, may be finding the “magic mix” of technology and message that inspires homeowners to be conscious of their energy use. Instead of feeling like it is scolding its customers about turning off the lights, Glendale Water and Power will now be having a conversation with informed partners. And that is something worth talking about.