Utility customers have more control than ever when it comes to energy management and cost savings. Energy efficient appliances and lighting combined with building controls have made a huge difference when it comes to power consumption. An increasing number of homes and businesses can now generate their own electricity through solar panels and other sources as well. According to a recent Deloitte Resources study, thoughtful energy consumption has permeated the business psyche, with many companies now considering energy management to be an essential aspect of corporate strategy. Residential customers have passed the tipping point into becoming long-term energy conservationists, too.1
So Are Electric Utilities Doomed? Hardly.
As customers continue to seek energy management advice from their service providers, the Deloitte study concludes, utilities are presented with opportunities to strengthen trusted relationships and expand their revenue-generating services. In other words, utilities have the opportunity to help both residential customers and businesses with education and new products and services in order to accomplish their energy management goals. Despite increased competition from new entrants into the energy industry, Deloitte also reports that utilities are still the front-runners for providing this assistance. At the heart of this opportunity is customer engagement. The public is eager to take a more active role in energy management, and they’re looking to their own utility providers to help guide them.
For utilities, Deloitte points out that delivering customized energy management solutions and targeted incentives will become increasingly important. This may require working with partners to bundle in-home products and services. It might also require working with technology providers that can help utilities leverage the smart grid and other innovations to better respond to customer needs.
More than 20 years ago, the Electric Power Research Institute published a report on new service opportunities for utilities. The report found “information services including consulting, energy and environmental activities, and technology databases…may provide significant value to both customers and utilities while helping establish the utility as the customer’s energy advisor.”2 So the idea of harnessing customer engagement as a competitive advantage isn’t new. It’s just taken a couple decades to mature. Finally it’s being mastered by some of the most successful utilities today. Are you among them?
How Utility Products and Services Are Expanding
According to GTM Research’s latest report on alternative utility revenue streams, the country’s biggest utilities are exploring some traditional—and other not-so-traditional— revenue sources.3
- Home energy management systems
- Home/business energy reports
- Demand response
- Online consumption information
- Surge protection
- Building retrofits
- Appliance repair and maintenance
- Electric vehicle charging
- Bundled services (Internet, TV)
- Home inspections
- Wireless consulting
- Permitting services
- Economic development loans
- IP licensing