Insights from our Editorial Team
AGA/EEI Customer Service Conference serves up Texas-sized portion of information
In Fort Worth, Texas, this week, electric and gas utility customer service executives from across the country shared experiences and learned new approaches to engaging customers. Intelligent Utility magazine editor-in-chief Kate Rowland joined them, and reports back.
One advocate argues that economics will drive it
As more distributed resources connect to the grid, the more the grid itself will become a secondary feature, with generation and transmission serving as a backup system, argues one advocate of distributed generation. Economics and the American devotion to self-sufficiency will drive this trend, one that utilities can lead or trail. Some are, some aren't.
Business models are basic; will alternatives overtake them?
If business models precede technology roadmaps, then utilities should be aware of the alternatives being pursued by groups dedicated to a paradigm of decentralized power. In the latter case, falling costs create a rising tide that can float utilities' boats or sink them.
Customers maintain interest in offers, if offered
An annual, global Accenture study paints a portrait of electricity customers worldwide, with American consumers in context. Guess what? They're open to offers, if utilities make them offers. The study identifies opportunities, if utilities can seize the day.
Customers also consider alternatives, third parties
Utilities are moving quickly to secure a relationship with their customers before those customers develop a keen interest in alternatives to centralized power, perhaps aided by third parties. Utilities can lead change or fight it. In fact, they're doing both.
Effort to cut costs, raise satisfaction, seeks payoff
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
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
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.
California regulators articulate nine major hurdles
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.
No procurement targets, for now; deliberations continue
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.