Smart Grid

There is no TEAM in SMART GRID. Five E’s can change that.

During my college years, I earned money selling encyclopedias door-to-door. Did pretty well, too; so well that a competitor offered me a job representing a far more familiar brand. This time, the results weren’t great. Selling seemed like a one on one activity, perfect for individual drive and determination, but the lesson was the value of the team.

The first employer had emphasized training, preparation and camaraderie…mostly the latter. Everyone belonged to a peer group which met frequently, compared notes and had a lot of fun. The second employer had mechanical sales meetings, one-way exhortations to do more, and no real sense of team.

Today, the average utility has 13 enterprise systems that touch on customers in some way. It’s an alphabet soup that includes CIS, GIS, OMS, DMS, and so forth. Point is that they all present some view to the customer, and all of them support different silos of activity. While there is no “I” in team, there seems to be no “team” in smart grid. To achieve a sustainable result, this has to change.

These five “E’s” are the secret to energy sustainability

It’s a win-win scenario using five words that start with “E” (like Energy and Electricity…). Let’s examine the steps that can promote energy sustainability along the path for achieving a smarter grid.

EQUIP. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, new technology improves electric power system efficiency and reliability. Utilities need to EQUIP customers with user-friendly smart meters and relevant energy management systems. Having useful high-tech features to control energy will convert energy consumers into early technology adopters. And, they’ll spread the word. Think Comfort, Convenience, and Safety.

EDUCATE. Remember the “blinking 12:00” from early VCR days? Utilities need to guide consumers down the path that helps them understand and buy into all the things they can do. They need to EDUCATE their customers. By showing how variable pricing and smart meters work, customers proactively can manage and reduce their own energy costs.

EMPHASIZE. Utilities must let customers know how smart grid gives them greater opportunities. EMPHASIZE this will help customers respond more efficiently, making them smart grid champions. It also makes for very satisfied rate payers.

ENGAGE. This “E” means interaction and relationship building. When utilities ENGAGE their customers, they feel like they’re part of the solution. Consumers show a growing interest and desire for a green and sustainable Energy Ecosystem. They are interested in understanding the role they play in the world. Nothing will make them happier than keeping the electric grid stable, especially when it saves money.

EMPOWER. Last but not least, utilities need to EMPOWER energy consumers with better control over their own energy usage and energy output. They need to be encouraged to program home and business HVAC and other energy using systems to more effectively manage their home’s energy usage. Here’s a fun fact: Gaming consoles use about 1% of all energy consumed in the US. Most of that comes with the game console in stand-by mode.

Let’s put the team in Smart Grid and make our customers part of it.


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