Customer Experience

Baltimore Gas & Electric Reshapes Peak Pricing Programs

Dec. 12, 2019
BGE is using Oracle's Opower service to help customers reduce their daily peak energy use and utility bills.

Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) has launched a digital experience pilot for thousands of Baltimore residents who pay on- and off-peak rates for electricity. The BGE is using Oracle Utilities Opower Behavioral Load Shaping Cloud Service to engage customers with a proactive, personalized 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 (EV) 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.

Peak pricing programs have not traditionally provided the ongoing, personalized 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, the BGE is providing residents new insight into how small behavior 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.

“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,” said Mark Case, vice president of regulatory policy and strategy at the BGE. “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.”

“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,” said 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. The BGE and Opower are putting those learnings into practice and employing a smart experimental design that will expand our industry’s body of knowledge.”

The BGE and Opower are running the program as a randomized control trial in order to yield novel, statistically significant peak pricing pilot results. Throughout the trial, the companies will be isolating and measuring the impact of the customer experience itself — discretely from the peak price signal — on bill savings, customer satisfaction, peak demand, and adoption of BGE programs and products that can help customers save even more. The trial started in summer 2019.

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