Powering the People: Uplight


Edison Foundation

Fortnightly Magazine - January 2024

More than a dozen thought leaders and decision makers took the stage at the Edison Foundation's Institute for Electric Innovation's 13th annual Powering the People event in Washington D.C. Enjoy these excerpts.

Neil Veilleux: To capitalize on that opportunity, three things need to come together. That's technology, markets, and policy, and then customer engagement, a good customer experience. On that technology side, we arguably have everything we need.

Digitization of the grid has been happening for a number of years. We've got smart meters, smart thermostats, and smart DERs. We certainly need better, smoother access to data from those smart devices, but the pieces are in place and there're a lot of smart innovators at Uplight and elsewhere that are working to solve those problems.

On markets and policy, which is what I hold near and dear to my heart, there's a lot of work to be done. There're just problems all over the market as we're trying to figure out how to structure programs or policies to make demand flexibility work in the residential sector.

I think we can do it. I think there's a lot of great progress that's being made, and a lot of that liftoff report that David mentioned earlier has got a lot of great suggestions, but I think there's a lot more to be done there and we can and should talk about that more later.

Then on that frictionless customer experience, we know how to do this. This is the bread and butter of what Uplight does with our utility partners, really think through what is a frictionless customer experience, how do we make it easy for customers to participate in demand flexibility programs?

It comes down to a few things. Great customer education. So, whether that's outbound email marketing or whether it's home and group reports or videos that help them understand complex topics, I think that the tool set is pretty wide and deep on customer education.

It's a simplified buying journey, which we often do through e-commerce platforms, again, with our utilities, high utility marketplaces. It's also meeting the customer where they're at.

Not every customer wants to go to an e-commerce platform to buy a special thermostat, but they might at Home Depot, or they might go to Amazon and there're APIs now that enable us to apply utility rebates and pre-enrollment for demand solutions at those stores. That's an exciting development.

Then helping the customer take the right next step. So, maybe they come to the utility to explore buying a heat pump. Absolutely, let's help them do that, especially as IRA dollars rain down on us. But let's also point them toward a smart thermostat or better weatherization and help them take that right next step at the right time for them to recreate that frictionless experience.


Powering the People excerpts at fortnightly.com: