Accelerating the Clean Energy Ecosystem

By Justin Segall on

Customer expectations and climate change. These are the two paramount challenges facing the utility industry today. Customers have more choices for energy usage than ever before in their homes and businesses. Meanwhile, consumers are increasingly demanding a personalized, omni-channel, instant, valuable customer experience—on par with companies like Amazon and Netflix.

Also, the effects of climate change are real and they are here today. Access to water, extreme heat, rampant wildfires, summer ice storms, stronger storms, larger floods, crop failures … the list goes on. Climate change is already having a significant impact not only on our environment, but also on our economy, health, food security and more. And the situation will become more dire unless we fundamentally transform the way we think about and consume energy.

These two challenges leave utilities at a crossroads. Their consumers are demanding a utility experience that does not yet exist, and the effects of climate change and the economics of sustainable power are driving a step change in the role of clean energy and prosumers. Coal is a big contributor to global warming, responsible for one-third of America’s CO2 emissions.

Utilities are in a unique position to lead a movement away from coal by creating a clean energy future in a personalized, innovative, and customer-centric way. They can, and in more cases are, becoming the enabler of a lower-carbon future that benefits people of all ages, social and socioeconomic backgrounds.

Siloed Data, Patchwork of Systems, and Trapped Potential

In order to meet these challenges, utilities have had little alternative than to rely on a patchwork of point solutions or spend millions of dollars and years trying to adapt slow, horizontal back-office systems (think CRM, CIS, ERP). But these approaches lead to data and organizational silos, creating a fragmented customer view, and therefore a disjointed customer experience. As a result, utilities are leaving customers unsatisfied and looking for alternatives.

Addressing the climate challenge is another obstacle that utilities face. There is tremendous potential in energy efficiency, demand management, and clean energy, but it remains largely untapped because of barriers in customer education, convenience, and control. As a result, traditional approaches to deploy demand side management measures have largely ignored a large gap between economic and achievable potential—representing missed savings and load flexibility, but also reductions in environmentally-critical greenhouse gases.  

Utilities Hold the Answer

Utilities hold the key to breaking this paradigm of sub-optimization. They are able to leverage existing customer relationships and data—delivering a frictionless experience, and simultaneously earning the trust of regulators, investors, and management as they transition to a customer-centric enabler of the clean energy future. With customers and customer solutions as a strategic imperative—not simply a regulatory check box—providers can shift from a cost-based to a value- and performance-based business model, delivering a platform for offering expansion and corresponding higher price-to-equity multiples.

In order to orchestrate an integrated, frictionless experience, utilities must engage their customers, motivate them to act, and optimize their actions. For instance, this looks like using behavioral energy efficiency as a true engagement channel, not as a standalone measure. In doing so, utilities can derive personalized insights from disaggregated AMI data that yield new business value. As a trusted advisor, utilities can then provide compelling reasons for customers to take action by shifting their energy usage and buying patterns, making their homes and businesses more energy efficient, and purchasing items from a comprehensive marketplace that brings together programs, products, and services from rates to efficiency to EVs to DERs. The final step is to continually optimize for both the customer and the grid—creating a positive feedback loop that continues to drive action without forcing customers to do it all themselves.


The Vision in Action

This isn’t just a theory. We’re doing it with our utilities partners at scale today. For example, Consumers Energy in Michigan has entrusted Simple Energy and Tendril to help reach targets from their latest Integrated Resource Plan that calls for zero coal production and at least 40% from renewables by 2040. 

Another example is at Alliant Energy in Iowa. The utility is using meter data to drive lower carbon and lower bills for their business customer partners. Using AMI data analytics, we’re helping Alliant to determine which businesses are best fits for cost and carbon savings from particular EE/DSM and Beneficial Electrification measures. Integrated engagement software then helps Alliant approach the right customers with a win-win holistic solution that looks across program silos, in both digital and human interactions. Add to that a developing view on individual grid impacts of customers who act, and Alliant is on a path to bringing added value to customers while realizing positive load growth benefits.

What is Uplight?

As Uplight, we are excited to be providing proven-at-scale, comprehensive and connected energy experiences that eliminate silos and leverage every energy interaction across all channels, programs, and solutions. This not only creates the kind of personalized experience that customers expect—and motivates them to act—but it also reduces frustration, service calls, and creates more opportunities to grow revenue. Just as importantly, it enables the managed energy optimization, innovative business models, and energy experience orchestration that will be needed to create a more sustainable future.

New technologies deployed on both sides of the meter already deliver significant value to energy consumers, the grid, and the environment.  But the true potential of energy system transformation will continue to elude us until we can deliver a world-class integrated consumer engagement experience like Amazon and Apple have done. Uplight brings together the full suite of SaaS solutions key to enabling providers to engage and motivate consumers, optimize customer deployed resources across the meter, and deliver orchestrated energy solutions.

Most importantly, Uplight is helping utilities accelerate the clean energy ecosystem by putting customers at the center while creating earnings growth for their shareholders. We have the ambitious goal of reducing CO2 by more than 100 million metric tons in 5 years and saving consumers more than $10 billion on their energy bills. 

Interested in joining us on this mission to motivate and enable energy consumers and producers to accelerate the clean energy ecosystem? Be in touch with us!

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