What do residential customers expect from their utility? The answer may surprise you…

December 1, 2021

by Dominique de Wit

The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative (SECC), a consumer-focused nonprofit, finds that almost 100% of residential consumers are interested in energy technology. A key driver of the growing customer interest in energy technology is lowering their electricity bill.  

Customers are expecting utilities to inform them about cost savings by providing personalized bill impact estimates of new technologies, rates, and programs. With 74% of customers now actively engaged with energy, TOU rates will further help customers with overall cost savings by shifting energy consumption to off-peak hours at lower rates. 

Enhanced customer engagement therefore will result from personalized rate and program recommendations via an online rate tool: 

  • By providing customers rate plan comparison tools with their historical usage information, customers can compare savings under different rates. 
  • Engage customers with online rate tools via direct mail, utility website and energy portals, IVRs, and/or Customer Service Representatives/Key Account Managers.  

 Figure 1: Rate Comparison Analysis for www.sce.com, powered by GridX Customer Engagement Web Services. 

Southern California Edison (SCE) utilized this rate comparison tool during its TOU rate transition. For the TOU default pilot that started in March 2018, only 12% of the 400,000 customers opted out of the TOU rates prior to the transition. Since the transition, only 2% switched back to the tiered rate.   

By using the rate comparison tool, customer awareness of TOU rates has increased for SCE’s residential customers. By 2019, the 130,213 customers logging in to the rate comparison tool was an almost 400% increase from 34,043 customers in 2017. Among the sample who say they are on TOU, the proportion who believe it is the best rate for the household rose significantly from 66% in fall 2018 to 82% in fall 2019. 

Figure 2: SCE saw an almost 400% increase in number of customers logging into its residential rate comparison tools in 2019 relative to 2017.   

With the growing customer interest in smart energy products, customers increasingly expect utilities to serve as their energy advisor.By providing cost analyses via rate tools with bill impacts, utilities can now enhance customer engagement, satisfaction, and trust.