The growth of distributed energy resources has opened up a host of options for energy providers and their customers. Energy providers can offer dynamic pricing while commercial and industrial (C&I) customers can take advantage of flexible options such as bidirectional charging and behind-the-meter resources.
Yet achieving this transition and managing distributed resources is no easy task — it’s crucial that energy providers and their C&I customers communicate and collaborate to bring these capabilities to life.
In a new global survey of 150 U.S. and U.K. energy providers conducted by Utility Dive's studioID and ESG, a leading software provider for energy companies, energy providers made it clear that providing advanced energy usage reporting and analytics are valuable insights for their C&I customers. But while U.S. and U.K. respondents were aligned on the importance of these tools, the data revealed important differences in the tactics they’re implementing and what it means for their customers.
Geographic differences in customer engagement
As the survey data shows, across the U.S. and U.K., energy retailers and energy suppliers agree that advanced capabilities will let them differentiate themselves from the competition and engage with their customers.
|Which capabilities will enable you to engage/differentiate? *Respondents were asked to choose multiple answers||Capability||U.S. energy providers||U.K. energy providers|
|Energy efficiency programs||100%||100%|
|Demand response programs||90%||61%|
|Carbon footprint analysis||59%||82%|
Based on these responses, large majorities of respondents in both the U.S. and the U.K. see the value of sharing advanced capabilities and insights with their customers. All of the programs and analyses that the survey inquired about will facilitate more efficient use of energy resources and optimized pricing for customers.
Yet when it comes to communicating these types of analysis, the data shows notable differences between the two regions. Specifically, carbon footprint analysis, energy efficiency programs and demand response programs varied significantly:
|What information do you communicate to your C&I customers today? *Respondents were asked to choose multiple answers||Capability||U.S. energy providers||U.K. energy providers|
|Energy mix analysis to improve energy efficiency||89%||53%|
|Demand response programs||90%||61%|
|Carbon footprint analysis||43%||98%|
About half of U.K. energy providers and suppliers are sharing energy mix information to drive greater energy efficiency, whereas large majorities in the U.S. are providing that data. Conversely, carbon footprint analysis is nearly ubiquitous in the U.K., while less than half of U.S. respondents are providing this information to customers.
Survey insight: opportunities to increase analytics for customers
This data demonstrates that energy providers in both markets have ample opportunities to increase their customer engagement efforts by offering more useful analytics. There are the obvious opportunities of offering carbon footprint analysis in the U.S. and energy efficiency data in the U.K. But both markets could also increase their reporting of time-of-use analysis for more dynamic pricing, and they can both increase automated demand response communications.
|What information that you don’t currently provide do you plan to communicate to your C&I customers in the next 12-24 months? *Respondents were asked to choose multiple answers||Capability||U.S. energy providers||U.K. energy providers|
|Energy mix analysis to improve energy efficiency||11%||14%|
|Proactive demand response notifications via text or app||23%||24%|
|Time-of-use analysis and recommendations||19%||35%|
|Carbon footprint analysis||41%||8%|
|None of the above||32%||45%|
However, over a third (32%) of U.S. respondents and nearly half (45%) of U.K. respondents don’t plan to introduce new or different analyses for their customers in the next 12-24 months.
Why would this be the case? Energy providers understand the importance of differentiating themselves from the competition and engaging with customers, so why would they not commit to scaling up their data communications?
Recent studies note that greater integration between distribution systems and wholesale markets will be critical to incorporating distributed resources. However, to communicate on the front end with their customers, they need technologies that can translate complex energy information into actionable insights.
Technology to bridge the gaps
To overcome any stagnation and ensure they continue to meet customer expectations, energy providers need advanced tools and analytics to facilitate customer communication. Their systems must be “integrated and integrateable” so that data flows smoothly for immediate insights and faster decision-making.
ESG, for example, offers its clients a central data repository where users can build their own unique data lakes across multiple sources. Since the software can extract data from different sources, energy providers can run queries of their choice and get the insights they need for their particular market and customer base.
This can be useful for those providers seeking to understand their customers’ carbon footprint and better communicate this information, as 41% of U.S. respondents plan to do in the near future. Conversely, this technology can facilitate communications on time-of-use pricing and advanced billing, which has room to grow in both regions.
“With all the information overload we see today, it’s critical that energy providers embrace not just data itself but that they also ensure it’s used to improve services for customers and control costs,” says Patrick Smith, Managing Director, North America, with ESG. “Energy providers and energy suppliers should seek out insights and solutions that support their customers and industry initiatives such as demand response, enhanced billing, improved forecasting and behind-the-meter activity,” he advises.
With rising interest in sustainable energy practices, cost concerns and the increasing complexity of distributed assets, it’s more important than ever that energy providers facilitate their customers’ energy needs and goals. As the latest data proves, the industry is well aware of the opportunities in advanced capabilities and customer engagement — now it’s time to find the solutions and partners who provide the capabilities and insights they need.
Click here for the full survey data report.
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ESG is the market-leading integrated software platform for the energy industry. With over 25 years of market experience, ESG software manages over 40 million customer accounts worldwide, performing 2.5 million transactions per hour or 30 million transactions per day. ESG software is behind over 40% of all UK smart meters and supports energy retailers in every deregulated state in the US.