2009 was the year of the “smart grid revolution” — until it wasn’t. Even with $3.9 billion of stimulus funds poured into grid improvement projects like meter installations and thermostat giveaways, utilities were soon left asking: what happened to the smart grid?
Today, leading utilities know they can’t capture the value of their AMI investment through installations alone. Instead, they must connect those devices to the grid and the people who use it — through hardware and software.
To date, investment planning for smart meter rollouts has been focused on operational benefits, like better meter-to-bill processing and outage detection. That’s important — but so are customer benefits. By fully integrating them into your AMI investment plan, you can meet regulatory requirements, realize the investment business case, unlock new value streams, and raise customer satisfaction.
How will your customers benefit from smart meters?
What components of your business case depend on customer action? How will you make sure customers take those actions?
There are just a handful of moments a year when customers are ready to interact with their utilities. An AMI installation is one of them. Seize the opportunity to show households the benefits of their smart meters and welcome them onto digital channels. Early education means happy customers who appreciate the smart grid and enroll in AMI-enabled programs.
Will your customers understand how they personally benefit from smart meters?
Which channels will you use for AMI education? Will you reach every customer?
Can you personalize your outreach using segmentation and targeting?
Legacy IT systems weren’t built to handle the amount of data smart meters create. So utilities are increasingly turning to the cloud — as banks, telecoms, and other companies have already done. Nearly 90% of utility executives plan to transition to cloud-based meter data management in the next three years, citing simpler IT management, more flexibility, and quicker innovation.
What could your IT team achieve if they didn’t spend 90% of their time maintaining legacy systems?
Have you explored cloud options for the important software components of your meter rollout?
AMI data offers unprecedented visibility into the way people use energy, but it takes powerful analytics to understand it. At Opower, we’ve developed proprietary machine learning algorithms that can identify distinct, recurring energy usage patterns — what we call “load curve archetypes.” And for the first time, our clients can segment and target households not only by who they are, but by the unique ways they use energy.
How could better behavioral data enhance your existing programs?
Beyond forecasting demand, what plans do you have for AMI data analysis?
With AMI data, you can implement new rate structures that encourage customers to use energy when it’s plentiful and save energy when it’s scarce. It’s a critical capability, particularly as distributed energy resources put new strain on the power grid. But dynamic rates aren’t just a tool to balance supply and demand — they’re also a chance to raise customer satisfaction.
How are distributed energy resources affecting demand in your territory?
How do you plan to educate customers about new rate structures? Will that education differ for “winners” and “losers” on new rates?
How will you help your customers succeed on their new rate plans?
Roughly half of all consumers say the utility digital experience doesn’t measure up to other web services. That reduces satisfaction, and it keeps customers on high-cost channels, like phone and paper. AMI data can dramatically elevate your digital experience — surfacing the kind of personalized, meaningful insights that increase customer satisfaction and self-service.
What services are your customers asking for?
Have you done customer journey mapping to find pain points for your customers?
Are you confident in your customer engagement capabilities?