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2019 was the coming of age for Orchestrated Energy

By Don McPhail on

Couple at Home with Laptop on Couch

Since its conception in 2016, Orchestrated Energy – Uplight’s patented approach to sophisticated load management has sought to seamlessly integrate comfort, energy efficiency and power pricing considerations using smart devices in the home, starting with smart thermostats. Over the years it has done exactly that, winning awards for setting the industry benchmark of superior loadshift, stacking the benefits of both demand response and energy efficiency goals, and delivering a superior customer experience. But 2019 will go down as the year that Uplight’s Orchestrated Energy came of age.

Orchestrating at Scale

Going beyond pilots and small scale programs, in 2019 Uplight launched several new programs acquiring thousands of new households into its demand management programs – achieving a growth rate of 400% over 2018. Looking ahead for 2020, this trend is set to continue with a further 400% increase in households committed to be delivered between existing programs growing and the addition of several new programs launching. 

The successful execution of this growth though is really tied to our superior ability to acquire customers – both through the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) channel with our partners, but increasingly via utility marketplaces hosted by Uplight. As part of an integrated program pre-enrollment solution, eligible customers are able to stack and apply both energy efficiency and demand response program rebates at the point of purchase, and be dispatched a thermostat that is pre-authorized for participating in the program. These capabilities are unique to Uplight and increase conversion rates to between 70% and 80%, compared to traditional BYOD email campaigns which achieve only 10-20%.

Emerson Thermostat with Demand Response purchase

Figure 1: Rebate stacking and DR program enrollment at point of purchase on an Uplight utility marketplace

Achieving Superior Utility and Customer Results

While we’ve long known Uplight’s Orchestrated Energy is able to achieve superior load shift over traditional thermostat vendor demand response (DR) methods. In 2019 we completed a head-to-head comparison in a midwest program, and the results were astounding. During a three hour summer peak event, Orchestrated Energy was able to achieve a sustained average load shift 38% higher than vendor DR method. At the end of the event there was also zero snapback – compared to 38% snapback[1] on the vendor DR approach. 

The great thing about these load shift results is that they haven’t come at the cost of customer comfort or experience. In fact, customers love being on Orchestrated Energy programs. For one of our midwest utilities we achieved a net promoter score of +65, three points higher than the utility customers not in the program. 84% of customers also felt they were either more comfortable or had no impact on comfort during DR events. But best of all, 98% of customers had a positive program experience, and 64% had an outstanding experience. 

Raising the Bar on Program Manager Tools 

Taking a page out of Google’s book on design thinking, Uplight’s in house product design squad overhauled our program management tools to ensure we are continuing to deliver a clean, modern and powerful experience. Following a series of user interviews, market research, and iterative testing process, Uplight launched at the end of 2019 a new Demand Response Management System – our utility tool suite that enables program managers to get a real time snapshot of load under management and program health metrics, and schedule DR events. Already we are receiving great feedback about a richer yet cleaner and intuitive interface compared to what they’ve come to expect from other industry providers.

Demand Response Dashboard

Figure 2: Uplight Orchestrated Energy Dashboard

Looking ahead to 2020

Never one to rest on our laurels, we’ll be taking things up a notch in 2020 as we go through further rapid growth to become one of the biggest residential DR program providers in North America. Already in January we’ve launched a new winter smart thermostat DR program to optimize heating demand (as opposed to summer cooling), and are preparing recruitment for two new rate optimization programs that will save customers money and deliver utilities reliable daily load management. Come the end of year, we’ll be launching our first gas DR for a utility, establishing a dual-fuel, year round resource. 

 

No matter which way you look at it though, 2020 is going to be an awesome year for Uplight’s Orchestrated Energy and our clients, and we can’t wait.

[1] The “snapback” effect, is the increase in demand in the hours immediately following a DR event, beyond what the load would have been had a DR event not taken place.

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