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Energy

How Utilities Can Enhance Their Efficiency Through Consumer Rate Programs

Too few customers are familiar with their energy-provider’s special rate programs, according to market research firm Parks Associates. With many service providers offering special rates as part of energy programs, there is opportunity for households to save and for the utility to lower electricity consumption.

Familiarity, however, has largely stagnated. Across rebate, TOU, DR, tiered pricing, and EV plans, the number of households saying they are highly familiar has vacillated over the past 5 years and never moved above 26% for any program.

There is a significant opportunity for utility companies to expand their special rate programs and engage more customers. However, this requires a concerted effort to improve customer awareness and meet their increasing expectations for savings.

By addressing these challenges, utilities can not only enhance customer satisfaction and retention but also promote more efficient and sustainable energy usage.

  • Underutilized Special Rate Programs: Despite many energy providers offering special rate programs aimed at reducing costs for households, a significant portion of customers remain unaware or unengaged with these offerings. Only 43% of households are using such programs, and just 11% of these are first-time users. This indicates a substantial untapped market for energy providers.
  • Stagnation in Customer Familiarity: There has been little progress in increasing customer familiarity with various energy programs like rebates, Time-of-Use (TOU) rates, Demand Response (DR), tiered pricing, and Electric Vehicle (EV) plans. The highest level of familiarity reported for any program has not exceeded 26% over the past five years. This suggests a need for more effective communication and marketing strategies to educate customers about these programs.
  • Rising Expectations for Savings: Customers’ expectations for savings from participating in energy programs are increasing. High benchmarks have been set for the perceived value of these programs.

Strategic Priority for Growth: For energy programs to reach a broader customer base and achieve their intended impact, they must become a high priority for service providers. This involves not only developing attractive and beneficial programs but also investing in customer outreach and education to increase awareness and participation.  For energy programs to reach a broader customer base and achieve their intended impact, they must become a high priority for service providers. This involves not only developing attractive and beneficial programs but also investing in customer outreach and education to increase awareness and participation.

Growing energy programs will need to be a high priority for service providers before they can reach customers in mass. Parks Associates will be addressing this topic along with leaders in the connected home and energy industries at its 15th annual Smart Energy Summit. Smart Energy Summit is co-located with DISTRIBUTECH, the largest utility and energy-focused conference in the world, on February 27-28 at the Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida.

Smart Energy Summit sponsors are SkyBell, SmartThings, Arcadia, Resideo, and Universal Electronics. The event feature keynotes from Tyson Brown, Manager Strategic Partnerships, Google, and Donald McPhail, VP Product, Uplight.

Confirmed session speakers include the following:

  • Dr. Gabriela Bunea, Chief Solar Innovation Officer, GAF Energy
  • Martin DeBono, President, GAF Energy
  • Geoff Martin, President & Co-founder, vipHomeLink
  • Mike Mulqueen, Director, Commercial Partnerships, SWTCH Energy
  • Bruce Nordman, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab
  • Chris Thorson, Chief Marketing Officer, FLO
  • Paul Wezner, Chief Product and Customer Officer, Powerley
  • Paul Williams, Managing Director of Home Management Business Unit, Nice

This article was published first at POWERGRID International on January 16, 2024

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