Oracle and Baltimore utility launch consumer digital experience pilot


US utility Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) has launched a digital experience pilot for consumers who pay on and off-peak rates for electricity.

The utility has partnered with Oracle Utilities to leverage the firm’s Opower Behavioral Load Shaping Cloud Service to engage customers with a proactive, personalised experience designed to help them save on their utility bills.

The new service encourages customers to shift their biggest everyday energy loads, such as running energy-intensive appliances and electric vehicle charging, to off-peak times. With these tips, BGE customers can save money while helping reduce daily peak energy demand and supporting a cleaner, healthier grid.

Mark Case, VP of regulatory policy and strategy at BGE, said: “We know on-peak and off-peak rates can seem complex, and we have a responsibility to offer excellent service to customers who choose them.

“With this new service from Opower, we can deliver a better experience for these customers by helping them shift their energy load for improved power affordability and reliability, all while reducing emissions.”

Peak pricing programmes have not traditionally provided the ongoing, personalised outreach customers need to help them shift their energy use and benefit from lower off-peak rates. Years of public evaluation data show programs that offered some outreach only left customers wanting more. With machine learning, user experience design, and customer engagement automation, Opower is reshaping this equation.

With Opower, BGE is providing residents with new insight into how small behaviour changes can create significant bill savings. Enrolled customers began receiving weekly digital communications that help them understand how their on and off-peak rates work. Each customer receives continually evolving content like week-over-week spending comparisons, personalized information about their on and off-peak spending, and adaptive, intelligent recommendations for shifting their largest energy loads in order to save money. 

“On and off-peak rates are nothing new—our industry has been implementing them for decades. Program evaluators have found again and again that customers with peak pricing are eager for better insights into their energy usage and their bills,” noted Dr Ahmad Faruqui, principal and energy economist with The Brattle Group. “What’s new and different is the way in which enabling technologies boost customer awareness and price responsiveness. BGE and Opower are putting those learnings into practice and employing a smart experimental design that will expand our industry’s body of knowledge.”