The Consumer Engagement “Tipping Point”

Tuesday, February 28, 2017 12:00 pm EST

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Mike Carlson, President of Siemens Digital Grid, North America

When I was younger, I remember there being a constant battle over the thermostat in the house. And that was when it was working properly. Now, in the days of Nest, the idea of controlling your home temperature is almost as second nature as setting an alarm clock. Add to that the ability to turn lights and televisions on via your smartphone or voice command; we live in a world of assumed expectations.

To some there is a certain “cool” factor in bringing intelligent technologies into our homes – just like we enjoyed getting electronic toys for gifts when we were younger, we enjoy it now. But, our interest in engaging stems from the ability to see benefits. As energy consumers, I believe that we’ve reached the tipping point and have largely bought into the idea that having better insight into how and where we’re using energy and what relationship we have to our power is valuable.

It’s a concept that has not only been validated in recent years, like in a recent study that showed Generation Y consumers are ready and willing to take more control of their energy usage, but we’ve continued to see real movement in making this a reality at some of the country’s most prominent utilities.

For example, Entergy, an energy company that delivers electricity to millions of customers in the South, recently announced plans to roll-out an advanced metering solution that will enhance grid reliability and improve customer service through digital technologies. Using Siemens meter data management software, the utility will be able to provide more efficient billing, faster outage detection and improve its ability to analyze data throughout Entergy’s Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, New Orleans and Texas jurisdictions.  The project, running through April 2019, will enable two-way communication between the utility and the 2.9 million electric and 200,000 gas meters across its customer base.

Further north, New York’s Consolidated Edison, is relying on Siemens software to implement their own advanced metering initiative that will increase engagement with their more than 3.9 million electric and 1.3 million gas customers. The six-year deployment will bring customers a much more timely and granular level of data and, according to Con Edison’s regulatory filings, will help meet the state’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiatives of providing advanced technologies and incentives that allow customers to “actively participate” in their energy usage.

These programs are great examples of what we can and should expect from our utilities—better information and greater control.  In a world that relies heavily on software, there is no reason our energy systems should be any different.

Just as data has improved many other aspects of our everyday lives, we’re confident that bringing greater insight into power usage will bring numerous benefits to customers and will help bring our energy infrastructure into the 21st century.

 

 

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