Real-Time Information Leads to Better Management of Energy Use

Challenge:

Over the past ten years, advances in technology have made it easier for consumers to access real-time information on their electricity use. Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI), which enables two-way communication between the customer and the meter, gives rise to reams of data. Over the past ten years, hundreds of pilot studies have been conducted to assess the effectiveness of AMI data in altering energy consumption. However, these small-scale studies have proved too narrow in scope, offering limited applicability to different audiences and customer segments.

In 2010, funding for a large-scale consumer behavior study (CBS) was made available to Vermont utilities through the Department of Energy’s Smart Grid Investment Grant (SGIG) program. Vermont Electric Cooperative (VEC) hired VEIC to develop a randomized study to test the effectiveness of AMI data in lowering peak demand when paired with dynamic pricing and consumer engagement.

Solution:

VEIC developed all aspects of the consumer behavior study, including research, design, implementation, data analysis, and final reporting. We procured AMI technology, administered the installation process, and developed enhanced customer service to engage the 1,200 residential customers who took part in the study.

The study, which wraps up in 2014, has enabled participants to track their energy use and to take advantage of energy efficiency options through a web portal. Preliminary results from the study show that customers who opted for dynamic pricing were able to change their patterns of energy use and benefit from lower rates during off-peak hours.

Results:

  • Enhanced customer services and in-home displays were effective tools in motivating participants to lower their energy use.
  • Customers with enhanced customer service, easier access to usage information, and dynamic pricing reported greater satisfaction overall.
  • Upon completion of the study, those who took full advantage of the AMI technology and customer service are expected to realize a 5-12% reduction in energy use.