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Utility-Customer Partnerships

Engaging the consumer takes on new meaning.

Fortnightly Magazine - October 2010

to run on this CIS software.

We are also in the process of integrating OPower into our business. We have filed a new behavioral feedback energy efficiency program with the Arizona Corporation Commission that uses the OPower process. This program will provide information about a customer’s usage and compare it to similar homes in the neighborhood, reinforcing energy efficient behaviors and highlighting inefficient practices.

In addition, APS has recently taken the plunge into social media. Social media is a great tool for any company’s portfolio. It’s another way to reach a target audience, which in our case, is all our customers. This past summer, we started updating customers about outages using Twitter (@APSOutageCenter). We have seen great success in this endeavor and will look to Twitter in the future for other communications needs.

YouTube is another social media tool we have used successfully. Over the past two years, APS has added several videos of events, energy efficiency programs, and more to our YouTube page . We will continue to open new doors into social media, including the launch of an APS Facebook page, as another way to encourage customer participation.

Schinski, PPL: We worked with Aclara to set up the ‘Energy Analyzer’ feature on PPL Electric Utilities’ Web site, which has proven to be a popular tool. More than 400,000 customers have accessed the analyzer to obtain information on their energy use and tips on how to manage it. Studies have shown that customers who access the analyzer regularly have been able to reduce their energy use.

We’re also working on a pilot program with OPower to provide 50,000 of our higher-use residential customers with monthly reports on their energy use, relative to other users in their area. We are hoping that can achieve results similar to the Energy Analyzer, empowering people to manage their electricity use by giving them detailed information and useful recommendations.

We have been hearing that customers are interested in more and different methods to communicate with PPL Electric Utilities—mainly, different ways to receive billing and outage information and to submit comments. We’re working on several systems to make that possible, including text messaging and e-mails to smart phones and iPads. However, we have not yet selected specific programs to implement those communications.

PPL Electric Utilities is in the process of moving to a new bill-printing program, and my department is involved in that process as well. The new program will be more agile and flexible in terms of the messaging we are able to provide customers. We may be able to use that new flexibility to customize our messages and encourage customer participation in some of our programs.

My department recently brought forward and implemented an idea for a virtual hold program. Customers whose hold times are expected to exceed two minutes hear a message that tells them the expected wait time, and gives them the option to continue to hold or request a call back in the order their call was received. It’s one of many ways we are working to add convenience, make communicating