SMS offers an alternative to paper billing. Smart Meters Driving Adoption Customer Engagement Supporting the Payment Process Learning from Europe
Text messaging promises benefits in customer service and bill-payment efficiencies. Utilities have been slow to take up the opportunities, but successes in other industries and among European utilities is opening the door to SMS transactions for American power companies.
Evaluating smart meters and public backlash.
By Mike Rutkowski and Todd Lester
After ratepayers brought a class-action lawsuit against distribution utilities, Texas regulators commissioned a study of the state’s new smart meters. The study explains why customers reacted the way they did, and offers insights into how the industry can avoid a Texas-style backlash.
Correcting misconceptions about load-management programs.
Lisa Wood and Ahmad Faruqui
Do low-income customers respond to dynamic rates? The answer is yes, and in fact such customers can benefit from dynamic pricing without shifting loads”contrary to conventional wisdom. A study co-authored by the Edison Foundation’s Institute for Electric Efficiency and the Brattle Group shows that restricting access to dynamic rates might actually be harmful to most low-income customers.
Setting the stage for conservation.
America’s electric utilities understand their central role in taking efficiency and conservation to the next level. Accordingly, the industry has nearly doubled its spending on efficiency measures in the past few years. But encouraging customers to save energy won’t be enough to keep pace with the electricity demands of a growing digital economy. The country’s efficiency efforts will be most effective as part of a clean energy portfolio strategy.
Balancing risks and opportunities in efficiency investments.
Hossein Haeri, Jim Stewart and Aaron Jenniges
In June 2008, the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) established the electric energy-efficiency portfolio standards for New York’s investor-owned utilities. In its order, the PSC directed utilities to file three-year energy-efficiency plans. Later that year, the PSC issued a supplemental order approving shareholder incentives for utilities successfully implementing their portfolios. If all goes according to plan, the six affected IOUs stand to earn about $27 million annually in performance incentives over three years. The structure of the incentive mechanism approved by the PSC presents risk factors that might affect utilities’ ability to realize the full earning potentials the mechanism offers.
Consensus building is an imperative and educational art form.
With public opposition rising against almost any kind of utility project or investment, collaboration among stakeholders with widely divergent points of view never has been more critical. Three recent utility cases demonstrate how a formal stakeholder collaboration process can build support for otherwise contentious decisions.
Policy and technology changes are re-shaping the utility business model.
Michael J. Beck and William Klun
A once-in-a-lifetime confluence of forces is re-shaping the business models of America’s electric utilities. Rising costs, combined with technological advancements and shifts in regulatory policy, are putting unprecedented pressure on companies that depend on market conditions. Those that adapt to the new realities will be better positioned for success in the future.
Is electricity price-elastic enough for rate designs to matter?
Contrary to conventional wisdom, electricity demand isn’t immune to price elasticity, and rate designs can encourage conservation. In particular, inclining block rates coupled with dynamic pricing can cut electric use by as much as 20 percent.
Increasing prices for materials, equipment and services are driving utility infrastructure costs into uncharted territory.
Greg Basheda and Marc Chupka
The evidence is overwhelming: After a decade of relatively stable, or even declining, construction costs, the industry is now facing a prolonged period of elevated construction price tags. What are the causes behind this trend, and how might the cost increases translate into higher rates?
Can utilities simultaneously manage rising costs and pressing capital investment needs?
Johannes P. Pfeifenberger
Does the utility industry have the financial strength sufficient to meet the combined challenges of: (1) sharply increasing and highly volatile fuel and purchased-power costs; (2) significant capital investment requirements; and (3) rising interest rates?