Insights from our Editorial Team

  • Effort to cut costs, raise satisfaction, seeks payoff
    Apr 08, 2012 | Phil Carson

    A team of customer service representatives at Ameren Missouri is gradually transitioning from traditional roles to new "energy advisors" who can engage, educate and satisfy customers with questions that go beyond billing, outages and other traditional CSR duties. A lot utilities are talking about it; Ameren Missouri is doing it. Read on.

  • Ensuring quality and depth of the utility customer's experience
    What is the new ROE?
    Apr 05, 2012 | Kate Rowland

    There's a new ROE in the electric utility field. We all know about "return on equity." Next week, at the 2012 AGA/EEI Customer Service Conference & Exposition in Fort Worth, Texas, speaker Roy Barnes, of Blue Space Consulting, will talk about a different, customer-focused ROE -- "return on experience."

  • Readers: energy storage in California raises issues
    Apr 05, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Our readers debate the merits (and display disparate attitudes) on energy storage, as that topic  is discussed by California regulators. A diverse array of stakeholders come at the issue from vastly different starting points and some would like to simplify the issue by resorting to a future tied to fossil fuels only. A taste of the discussion, as generated by readers and our columnist, follows here.

    Comments: 3
  • California regulators articulate nine major hurdles
    Apr 04, 2012 | Phil Carson

    California regulators articulate nine barriers to the adoption of energy storage technologies and offer a framework for analyzing the role of storage and its costs and benefits. Some had feared procurement mandates for Golden State utilities, while others continue to fear "paralysis by analysis." The corollary to finding the power sector's "holy grail" is to figure out how to use it and value it.

    Comments: 3
  • No procurement targets, for now; deliberations continue
    Apr 03, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Energy storage policy in California remains in flux. The  regulatory process has brought forth stakeholders with divergent views of storage's role and value and, for now, California regulators have not decided to impose procurement targets on investor-owned utilities in the state. But that issue and others remain a source of investigation and debate.

    Comments: 11
  • Cities and towns explore paths to reliability
    Apr 02, 2012 | Phil Carson

    What's an investor-owned utility to do when cities and towns (not to mention campuses and military bases) it serves explore a microgrid solution, in the wake of reliability issues? IOUs in Connecticut, where grids took a big weather-related hit last fall, may be asking that question as various stakeholders gathered last month to consider the future of power in their communities.

    Comments: 2
  • Industrial control systems need security focus
    Apr 01, 2012 | Phil Carson

    The difference between cyber security for enterprise networks that handle corporate data and securing industrial control systems in the power sector is simple to grasp. Messing with the former can disrupt business and lead to lost revenue and profit. Messing with ICSs can lead to the malfunction of high voltage equipment, possibly leading to lost lives. Read on.

    Comments: 2
  • Simplicity rules in "let's be smart" energy efficiency campaign
    Saving energy can be fun...and funny
    Mar 29, 2012 | Kate Rowland

    While on vacation this week with my daughters in Victoria, British Columbia, BC Hydro's bus shelter advertisement caught my eye. It was plain in appearance, a few words at the top of a green page. It said: "Cartoons run on electricity, and children's laughter is priceless. Just sayin'."  Simple? Absolutely. And extremely effective, too. What else is BC Hydro doing to educate consumers while making them smile? Read on.

  • Essayists, readers, on whether it's a panacea
    Mar 29, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Does energy effiicency have larger benefits than the actual practitioner derives? Does greater efficiency merely lead to greater exploitation of the energy resource? Is it chimera or solution? Read on.

  • CenterPoint, Oncor use a contest to engage and educate customers
    Mar 28, 2012 | Phil Carson

    Utilities will engage customers one way or the other. Oncor and CenterPoint have used Americans' enthusiasm for games to engage and educate their customers, who then set about sharing the advantages of meter data amongst themselves. For a how-to, read on.

    Comments: 3