Engerati Week in Smart Energy

CustomerEngerati has written a lot about the engagement of utilities with their customers – a need that has become more urgent in the changing energy climate in which customers are becoming prosumers and an ever increasing number of energy tech companies and service providers are eyeing their dollars.

There is no doubt that many utilities are engaging effectively and profitably with their customers. But still the results of a new survey from the Shelton Group in the US, where the concept of utility customer engagement has come to the fore with the move to smart metering, were a surprise. There only 45% of those surveyed (2,009 people) expressed satisfaction with their utilities – notably down from 57% in January 2013 – and 30% said they would leave their utility if they could, with almost two-thirds of those preferring a non-utility alternative like solar provider SolarCity, Telcom provider Comcast, or Google.

These findings should be a wake-up call to the sector, not only in the US but in Europe and elsewhere, given the potential consequences. As Kim Norgaard, Global Head of Solutions at Elster Electricity, told Engerati in a recent interview – and a view which Engerati strongly endorses – it’s not in anybody’s interests, neither the utilities, their employees nor their customers, if they start losing customers and shrinking down due to the changing market circumstances. [Utilities – Adapt Or Die]

Of course utility trust is in the hands of utilities but when it comes to the market, what they can and cannot do is often in the hands of regulators. While calling attention to these findings, Engerati also believes that during 2015 there will be a definitive move towards further adaption both within the utilities and at the regulatory level. In this connection, New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision initiative, which could bring significant changes to the traditional market structure, will be particularly informative. [Reforming New York’s Energy Vision]

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