Direct contact between electric utilities and their customers sometimes is limited to the monthly bill and phone calls during outages or other negative situations. One of the plus sides of demand management programs, according to a recent study from the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA), is the ability to improve marketing and get a closer relationship with the customer.
“Changes in consumer expectations have led utilities to seek DSM [demand-side management] software solutions that can lower the costs of service, and improve customer satisfaction and engagement,” according to the report, “2018 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot.”
“Additionally, in regulated markets, public utility commissions are driving DSM by rewarding utilities for improving customer satisfaction and reducing service costs,” according to the report. Demand management technology also allows utilities to keep closer records of electric systems performance for regulatory purposes.
Overall, across 155 participants SEPA surveyed, the report finds 58 percent of total electric capacity was enrolled in demand response programs.
“While traditional DR programs [e.g., air conditioning switches and water heaters] continue to be available, a handful of utilities are updating air conditioners with two-way switches and exploring grid-interactive water heater capabilities,” the report found. “Forty-seven utilities reported calling on thermostats for DR events. Some utilities are offering a combination of switch-based and connected [oftentimes referred to as “smart” Wi-Fi] thermostats to satisfy different customer preferences.”
Most of the survey participants were investor-owned utilities, but about 10 percent of the list of 155 SEPA contacted were rural cooperatives.
NRTC offers a full set of demand management solutions, including Nest smart thermostats, Aquanta water heaters and other innovative software solutions.