The Evolution of Utilities Through Energy Analytics

Integrating commercial grade energy analytics the right way

Intelligent Utility, August 19, 2015. Image credit: brett jordan

Utilities largely recognize they must evolve, and many have taken steps to begin to reposition themselves in the eyes of commercial customers. A crucial component to this journey is a better understanding of customer needs. Gaining this understanding is not a simple task because commercial customer energy usage patterns, and therefore the solutions that can benefit them most, are incredibly diverse. Very often, a seemingly similar portfolio of buildings — say, a set of office buildings — have system operations and savings opportunities that can vary greatly — and that do not correlate well to basic benchmarks like energy use per square foot or ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager scores.

Along with increases in the availability of granular consumption data, virtual energy analytics have emerged to help utilities gain insights into the energy efficiency opportunities at each and every commercial customer. These platforms are increasingly being leveraged by utilities across the country. AEP Ohio, Puget Sound Energy and The United Illuminating Company, to name a few, recently adopted commercial meter analytics. Equally important, some of the current users of these platforms  (such as Con Edison in New York) are now realizing very tangible benefits from their deployments.

Virtual energy analytics are designed to understand how a commercial customer uses energy and how that customer can improve through energy efficiency and other demand-side management solutions. This software technology leverages data analytics wedded in building science to determine how much energy a building can save through energy efficiency and/or demand management and the specific operational and retrofit opportunities that exist in that building.

Competition, regulations, internal business drivers, and business model shifts are creating an environment where the relationship that utilities have with their customers is more important than ever before. The commercial sector, in particular, is an important one that utilities must move quickly on if they are to maintain, and augment, their market position. Coupling utility data with the right analytics can deliver unmatched insight and underpin customer-centric initiatives. The benefits are clearly there. For example, Con Edison in New York is seeing 4x increase in customer engagement with an analytics approach versus traditional program marketing efforts. But energy analytics are going to be most valuable only if they are properly incorporated into utility’s planning processes and day-to-day operations.  Following the strategies discussed above will put your organization in position to fully capitalize on an energy analytics initiative.

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