New alternative sources of energy, including solar, are providing customers an opportunity to become active participants in the grid. Their energy management needs are also getting more complex. Oracle Corp., the multinational computer technology corporation based in Redwood Shores, California, is equipping utilities to serve as trusted advisors to these increasingly active customers with its new Opower Distributed Energy Resources Customer Engagement Cloud Service.
The offering is already available in the market and initially provides rooftop solar customers helpful insight into their utility bills and energy savings. The company plans to expand its services and address other types of distributed energy resources (DERs) in the future, such as electric vehicles and residential battery storage.
Oracle Utilities Opower DER Customer Engagement is one of the four newly launched products and more than 100 new features in the Opower platform, the industry’s leading suite of customer engagement and energy efficiency cloud services.
According to Wood Mackenzie, the Houston-based leading research and consultancy firm for global energy, chemicals, metals and mining industries, “Solar is the second fastest growing resource after natural gas in the U.S., and residential solar has grown by 500+MW every quarter over the last four years.” However, many early adopters have been dismayed with their expectation of utility bill savings versus the reality. This is resulting in an influx of calls to their utility provider, which have proven to be up to US$8 more expensive and considerably longer than non-solar related calls.
Based on extensive research into the solar customer journey, Opower DER Customer Engagement addresses these challenges by providing utility customers with a personalized set of insights and recommendations relating to their overall energy generation, usage, and resulting bill.
“Engaging with our customers and providing them clear, consistent information about their energy consumption and production is critical,” said Feltrin Davis, manager, business intelligence and data analytics smart energy services, Exelon. “With Oracle, we have been able to regularly deploy new web tools for our solar/net energy meter customers and are updating them frequently to ensure we are providing the best experience possible.”
With Opower, utilities can now send new solar customers onboarding communications explaining what to expect and how solar billing works. New or existing customers can leverage online tools and insights to understand their net energy consumption. In addition, solar customers will also have a simple overview of their bills and a comparison of how their energy costs have changed since adopting solar. As a result, customers are happy and utilities reduce expensive call center volume.
“As distributed energy resources continue to rise, consumers are becoming more active and in control of their energy footprint – both as users and producers,” said Dan Byrnes, senior vice president of product development, Oracle Utilities. “They are looking to their utility to help guide them throughout this journey and provide clear, accessible insights they need to make more informed decisions. This innovation is a critical step forward in enabling the kind of deeper relationship between utilities and their customers which is essential as the industry moves towards a more customer-centric grid model.”
This offering – the only of its kind in the market - is powered by the world’s largest residential energy data analytics platform with over 1.6 trillion meter reads from more than 60 million households and businesses, across 100 utilities.