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The UtilityXpert Series Part 2: Sustainable Energy Efficiency Program Implementation

Posted By Nishaant Sangaavi, Wednesday, March 27, 2019

In this week’s UtilityXpert roundup, we chat with Brett Bishop of Build it Green , Build It Green (BIG), an environmental nonprofit based in Oakland, California with a mission to create a world of healthy and sustainable home for all people. They are pioneering how homes are built and renovated in California and beyond.

In this article, we’ll talk about Brett’s experience helping energy providers implement sustainable, effective EE programs. Brett has a wealth of experience and his passion really comes through when discussing some of the industry’s most challenge issues, including aggressive energy targets, as well as implementation tactics.

1 You've had a variety of experience designing and implementing all different types of EE programs. Tell us about your approach at the beginning to ensure a holistic plan is built.

We are passionate about bringing innovation to the market and inspired to support consumers, professionals, private companies, and public agencies to achieve the greatest impact. We mainly focus on three goals:

  • Driving deep reductions in carbon emissions by connecting more homes to clean power and advanced energy technologies

  • Creating a real estate market that recognizes the value of these homes and ensuring that these benefits are accessible and affordable to all communities

  • Creating healthy and sustainable homes for people in low-income communities.

All these approaches combine for a holistic plan because having these specific goals in mind makes it easier to achieve and track our successes in our various programs.

2 Tell us about the different nuances of implementing different programs in different communities?

It really comes down to knowing what the community we are trying to help needs from multiple perspectives. For instance for our Cool Savers program, the first Pay-for-Performance programs of its kind, we really wanted the focus on customers that want to save more energy! That’s what it’s structured to emphasize, that’s why participants become a stakeholder in the success of the program, and that’s why we added the Cool Rewards bonus system to the program, which allows participants to earn cash bonuses for being a deep energy saver.

(Cool Savers participants who save the most energy over a 12-month period are eligible for a bonus incentive up to $1,000.)

With our Healthy Home Connect program, we structured the program to leverage multiple funding sources to deliver energy and healthy home upgrades simultaneously to benefit California’s most vulnerable or disadvantaged communities, with both energy burden and regional air pollution being factored from the outset.

The Healthy Home Connect (HHC) program has successfully expanded into new communities, thanks to generous funding from our partners like Peninsula Clean Energy and private equities such as Facebook, Inc. BIG is delivering health and energy upgrades to families faced with hardships in the Belle Haven community, and Menlo Park near Facebook’s HQ. These homes would otherwise not benefit from existing energy efficiency programs because they needed much more basic repairs first. For example, one home had their entire ceiling removed in the hallway, completely open to the attic space, all year round! She was over eighty years old and clearly needed more than just LED light bulbs and faucet aerators. Typically, program administrators are unaware of such egregious conditions because there is no budget for measures outside of demand reduction or they choose not to get close to the work.

There is a strong link between health and energy efficiency in homes: energy upgrades often provide health co-benefits and we are working to unlock both of these benefits homeowners.

Housing services are often siloed and delivered to meet program performance metrics alone. Energy efficiency and weatherization programs do not address home health conditions, which are often closely related. Furthermore, many homes are disqualified from receiving energy efficiency and solar PV improvements because of existing conditions in the home, such as mould, moisture, unsafe HVAC systems leaking carbon monoxide, or dilapidated roofs.

The result is that some of the most vulnerable families are left behind and must live in homes that exacerbate asthma and other health conditions, as well as homes that are inefficient with high utility bills, contributing to displacement and the affordable housing crisis. Healthy Home Connect addresses these problems by combining public funding sources with private philanthropy and delivering health and energy efficiency together, intentionally. Exactly like everything else in the efficiency field, it demands a conscientious front side to each project and detailed project management.

BIG also worked closely with their local, like-minded, non-profit builder/partner El-Concilio of San Mateo, to establish relationships, trust within the community, and help fulfill the work and mission of the Program.

3 How do you approach getting buy-in for your recommendations at every step of the implementation process (ex. IT teams, DSM teams)?

The billion dollar question! Ultimately, it is about having the right team lined up around a future state. Which begins with the client, their objectives, and design constraints. Once these conditions have been identified and communicated market analysis drives the conversation. Build It Green is always conscientious to bring our workforce into this part of the design process; ultimately, if the market does not buy into your value proposition you are going to have a difficult time getting your program off the ground.

Once the interventions are established as to technologies and engagement platforms, the marketing team can begin designing a narrative that is relatable. As with any organization, having the right team on your side is key. Having a team that is aligned with the vision of the company’s core objectives results in an effort that communicates consistency across different departments and specializations. To steal a phrase from the sports world, it’s about “building your bench” which has to begin long before a project is even dreamed of.

4 California has lofty energy efficiency savings targets for 2030. How will it get there?

We have visions for 2030 that are aggressive, it's true, 2045 is even more so with a target for net carbon neutrality across our entire economy. It’s going to be a large effort with a lot of stakeholders and factors that are dynamic. One example that illustrates this well is California’s Renewable Portfolio Standard, our grid is more and more decarbonized with every passing year, so energy storage and shifting consumption to times of the day when the sun is producing our power are a big part of shifting the economy away from dependence on fossil fuels.

Energy Efficiency is crucial to the effectiveness of these efforts because if consumption of energy is unchecked, then the cost to produce the energy tracks the demand curve. Think of it on a smaller scale, a house that is efficient may need twenty solar panels; the same home without efficiency measures may need thirty panels to achieve an energy bill of zero. Less is definitely more. One phrase I really enjoy it, “the cheapest electron is the one you don’t use.”

I think the biggest challenge is going to be psychological. People are attached to their habits and don’t necessarily perceive them as such. One example of this is induction cooking. The technology has far superior performance compared to gas. I love cooking a lot and eating good food even more! It took me a while to get to a place where I could install an induction rage because my home is older and was set up for gas, but once I got it done I found was that I had a much greater level of control over temperature and everything heats up dramatically faster. It’s super nice, easy to clean, it performs better, and doesn’t put exhaust into my kitchen. Going back would feel like making dinner in the garage with the door closed and the car running! But until consciousness around these shifts, people will be espoused to antiquated technology.

All that circles back to decarbonization because utilizing renewables effectively is dependent on multiple systems like space and water heating, cooking, laundry, etc. Efficiency allows us to do the same things as we were doing before, hopefully, better, while consuming fewer resources. That’s the value proposition we need to convey, “your quality of life will improve if you get with the program,” otherwise there’s no reason to do anything different than you did yesterday. The horse and carriage were replaced with the car, the landline replaced with cellular, we have superior and sustainable technologies today, so the question is not if, but how, and by when. That’s where California is rightly focusing today.

“We’d love to hit targets early, but even if we’re a little late, we’re still in much better shape than if we didn’t strive for it in the first place.”
— BRETT BISHOP, BUILD IT GREEN

Tags:  Cost reduction  customer engagement  Customer EngagementResidential Programs  Energy Efficiency  Energy Efficiency Experts of Tomorrow 

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Navigant Research Report Shows Global Spending on Customer Engagement Through Demand Side Management (DSM) is Expected to Reach $1.1 Billion by 2027

Posted By Brett Feldman, Thursday, May 31, 2018

Navigant Research Report Shows Global Spending on Customer Engagement Through Demand Side Management (DSM) is Expected to Reach $1.1 Billion by 2027

To enhance competitiveness and meet customer expectations of new technologies, utilities and retail suppliers should invest in customer-centric DSM products

A new report from Navigant Research examines the global market for customer engagement through DSM (CEDSM), providing market forecasts for spending segmented by region, through 2027.

As customer expectations grow for new technologies, so does the market for CEDSM products, making it easier for utilities and retail suppliers to engage with them. However, uncertainty in the long-term cost-effectiveness of these solutions remains a barrier to global adoption, in addition to region-specific competitiveness of a deregulated energy supply market. Click to tweet: According to a new report from @NavigantRSRCH, global spending on CEDSM is expected to reach $1.1 billion by 2027.

“Because of the changes in consumer expectations, utilities and retail suppliers are seeking DSM software solutions that can lower the cost-to-serve and improve customer satisfaction and engagement,” says Brett Feldman, principal research analyst with Navigant Research.

According to Navigant, to enhance CEDSM competitiveness and customer acceptance, utilities and service providers should focus on combining budgets and revenue streams to cover costs, transition to newer business models while complementing existing DSM programs rather than replacing them, and offering accurate building energy use models to build customer trust.

This report, Utility Customer Engagement through DSM, examines the global CEDSM market, with a focus on market drivers and barriers, case studies, and forecasts for residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) CEDSM spending. The study examines the trends related to CEDSM to highlight regional activities and approaches to behavioral DSM and utility marketplaces. Global market forecasts for spending, broken out by segment and region, extend through 2027. The report also profiles key CEDSM solutions providers and provides recommendations for utilities, retail suppliers, and vendors that aim to enhance CEDSM effectiveness.

Contact: Stefanie Bradtner
+49.221.270.70.142
stefanie.bradtner@navigant.com

* The information contained in this press release concerning the report, Utility Customer Engagement through DSM, is a summary and reflects Navigant Research’s current expectations based on market data and trend analysis. Market predictions and expectations are inherently uncertain and actual results may differ materially from those contained in this press release or the report. Please refer to the full report for a complete understanding of the assumptions underlying the report’s conclusions and the methodologies used to create the report. Neither Navigant Research nor Navigant undertakes any obligation to update any of the information contained in this press release or the report.

Tags:  Behavioral  customer engagement  customer engagement digital  Customer Engagement Energy Efficiency  Customer Engagement Residential Programs  Customer EngagementResidential Programs  customer satisfaction  digital engagement  DSM  Energy Efficiency  energy efficiency programs 

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Apogee Launches Envoy an Extensive Digital Engagement Platform for Utilities

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, February 14, 2018

#741 - DI - Apogee - V2 from Apogee Interactive on Vimeo.

Personalized Utility Communications Increases Customer Satisfaction by 16%

Atlanta, GA – Feb. 15, 2018, Apogee Interactive, Inc. announced today their latest innovation, Envoy, a complete outbound communications platform for utility customer communications. This end-to-end digital engagement strategy includes personalized energy bill analysis videos, mid-cycle and threshold alerts, email messaging, and periodic energy summary reports. Findings from pilot programs studied over the last several years prove stellar results including increased customer satisfaction and program participation. Another powerful statistic is Apogee’s outbound messaging is achieving click through rates more than 30 times the industry average.

One large investor-owned utility analyzed the effectiveness of energy summary reports with a control group of 40,000 participants. This group saw a 16% increase in customer satisfaction with no negative impact. Another pilot program featuring personalized video bill analysis, reported that 98% of the video recipients wanted to continue receiving the videos and 93% reported they felt this was an effective way of communicating why the utility bill changed from month to month.    

Studies also prove high bills generate more calls to the call center than outages; the Envoy solution includes threshold and mid-cycle alerts that put the customer in control of their energy use, and reduces utility operating costs. By proactively communicating with customers through text or email alerts gives them a chance to make a difference in behavior that impacts their bill before they make a call.

“Today’s energy customers are more demanding; they expect personalized, relevant digital engagement with the companies they do business with” stated Lynn England, V. P. of Customer Engagement, Apogee Interactive, “We are finding our early adopters are meeting and exceeding their goals using the Envoy platform,” he continued. “Successful utility professionals are embracing digital channels and realizing its impact on program participation, revenue generation, and cost reduction.”

Susan Gilbert, CEO & President of Apogee added, “Apogee’s energy modeling was RESNET rated at the highest “Home Rating” level and ranked most accurate by a sizeable margin.  This enables utilities to provide consistent, correct information across all communications channels while positioning utility providers as trusted source of energy information.”

JD Power reports in their 2017 Residential Utility Customer Satisfaction Study that digital communications between utilities and their customers has risen approximately 5% in the past year. JD Power also attributes higher customer satisfaction scores to multi-channel communications.

Apogee will formally unveil its outbound communications platform Envoy at the Association of Energy Service Professionals 2018 National conference in New Orleans, LA on February 19th.

About Apogee Interactive, Inc.

Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full-service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers digital proactive, personalized communication to hundreds of North American utilities from coast to coast including some of the largest most progressive such as Southern Company (NYSE: SO), ConEd (NYSE: ED), PSEG (NYSE: PEG), and Tucson Electric Power (NYSE: TEP). For more information visit www.apogee.net  or LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/

 Apogee Contact: Karen Morris – 678-684-6801 – kmorris@apogee.net

 

Tags:  Apogee Interactive  customer engagement digital  Customer EngagementResidential Programs 

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Hometown Connections Teams with Apogee Interactive To Promote Customer Engagement on the Web

Posted By Karen Morris, Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Hometown Connections Teams with Apogee Interactive

To Promote Customer Engagement on the Web

Personalized, Outbound Energy Messaging for Public Power Residential Customers

Delivers Higher Satisfaction and Measurable Results

 

 

LAKEWOOD, CO and ATLANTA, GA – July 27, 2017 – Hometown Connections, the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association, and  Apogee Interactive announced a partnership to provide online customer engagement and energy analysis tools to public power electric, gas, and water utilities. Apogee is the country’s leading provider of personalized, outbound messaging and analysis for residential customers.  Currently offering services to more than 600 utilities here and abroad, Apogee has an extraordinary 24-year track record of innovation, service, and customer loyalty.

Through Hometown Connections, American Public Power Association members gain access to products/services from industry leading vendors vetted and endorsed for public power, as well as consulting support in the areas of organization assessment, strategic planning, market research, and workforce solutions.

“Hometown Connections has long admired Apogee’s ability to transform utility data into attractive, online, easy-to-understand, personalized messaging for residential customers,” said Bill Smart, Senior Vice President, Business Development. “Apogee is a one-stop, best-in-class shop for an impressive array of customizable and measurable customer communications web-based platforms, including video messaging, interactive voice & text response, energy-use alerts, calculators & reports, and home energy audits. Through this new partnership, Apogee and Hometown Connections will help individual utilities, state associations, and joint action agencies offer public power customers personalized and relevant energy information to build trust while increasing satisfaction and engagement.”

“Apogee’s mission is delivering cutting-edge innovation to our utility clients, helping them cost-effectively engage and educate their customers,” said Susan Gilbert, Apogee CEO & Co-Founder.  “Educated customers make better energy decisions, which saves them money while positioning the utility as a trusted, credible information source,” she added. “We pride ourselves on exceptional customer loyalty and analytical excellence.”  Apogee’s analysis engine is RESNET accredited as the industry’s most accurate, capable of producing a HERS home rating.  “We are proud to be included as a Hometown Connections partner and look forward to expanding our services to more of the municipal marketplace.”

About Hometown Connections International, LLC

Hometown Connections is the utility services subsidiary of the American Public Power Association, offering public power utilities guidance and access to quality products/services from a trusted entity with public power’s best interests in mind. Hometown Connections personnel provide consulting support in the areas of organization assessment, strategic planning, governance development, market research, and staffing. Hometown Connections provides discounted pricing on technology, services, and other solutions from industry-leading companies. The products and services offered through Hometown Connections include the full range of advanced grid solutions, as well as financial and organizational management tools and consulting. For more information, visit www.hometownconnections.com, https://www.facebook.com/HTConnections, https://twitter.com/HTConnections.

About Apogee Interactive

Apogee Interactive is nation’s leading full service provider of proactive customer engagement software services for utilities. A partner with the utility industry since 1993, Apogee’s digital engagement platform delivers on-line and outbound proactive, personalized communication to consumers nationwide. The company’s digital reach extends through more than 600 utilities to 48% of US households and businesses, increasing utility customer satisfaction and slashing costs. Apogee’s SaaS platform enables more meaningful customer engagement, proven sustainable energy results, and improved program performance for utilities. For more information visit www.apogee.net  or Linkedin  https://www.linkedin.com/company/99046/

 

Media and Business Contacts

Hometown Connections:

Bill Smart

bsmart@hometownconnections.com

303-940-7331

 

Apogee Interactive:

Karen Morris

kmorris@apogee.net

678-684-6801

 



 

 

Tags:  Apogee  Customer EngagementResidential Programs  Energy Efficiency 

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