Electric Light and Power Magazine is calling next year “the year of energy”. Their experts predict that the April 2014 New York State Public Service Commission’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative will come full circle in 2015.
“Wind and solar will find their places, as will the wider deployment of distributed resources like micro-grids, on-site power supplies and storage and empowering customers to control their electricity consumption”,writes Marie Bahl McKenna. “New York has started a powerful trend.”
For utilities across the nation, 2015 will be a year of reckoning – they’ll either step up and meet the opportunities of REV, or find themselves struggling desperately as the ground shifts below them.
Big Data Marketing Will Reach Maturity
Personalized marketing based on customer data will become critical for utilities in reaching their market and influencing customer behavior. New technologies will come to maturity and enable utilities to aggregate, analyze, and access useful insights into customer preferences. These insights will allow utilities to improve energy efficiency and cut costs in an effortless and transparent way.
Coal Facility Retirement Trend Will Accelerate
According to the EIA’s short-term energy outlook, an estimated 8,500 MW of coal capacity was retired between 2013 and 2014, accounting for 2.9% of existing coal-fired capacity at the end of 2012. The EIA predicts that 2015 alone will see more than 12,800 MW of coal-fired capacity to shut down.
Renewable Energy Growth Will Increase
The same report projects that total renewable energy capacity will grow by 4.3% compared to a 2014 increase of only 1.8%. Total electricity generation from wind alone is projected to contribute 4.7% of total generation in 2015. Growth of utility-scale solar capacity is expected to nearly double, as opposed to previous growth. The increase in growth is due in part to growth in utility-sited distribution as opposed to previous focus on customer-sited distribution.
Small Business Energy Efficiency Initiatives Will Be Key to Success
With REV influencing state and national EERS, utilities will have to escalate energy efficiency programs in order to meet new standards. With utility-sponsored programs in many states focused on residential and large commercial users, the largest area for improvement in many cases lies in tapping the under-served small business market, which represents 30% of total energy use in most metropolitan settings.
For this reason, instituting a strong small business efficiency initiative for 2015 should be near the top of every utility’s New Year’s resolution list.
Most utilities do a good job providing energy efficiency programs for large commercial customers. These customers generally have personnel dedicated to finding and utilizing efficiency programs, and navigating their complexities.
Small businesses, on the other hand, rarely have the time and resources to pursue traditional programs, and as a result their participation in commercial efficiency programs is abysmally low.
To meet the needs of small business, utilities must institute programs that meet owners and operators where they are, and provide transparent value with little to no upfront investment. A good small business initiative:
Clearly, simple, effective efficiency solutions for small business can reap major rewards for utility companies. Fortunately, these programs don’t have to complicated, and the cost is often a fraction of the cost of building new facilities. Partnering with a solution provider with a proven track record of serving small business needs can make energy efficiency savings simple.
The REV initiative calls for sweeping changes to the energy industry. Its mandate to provide greater customer education and transparency, as well as significant energy efficiency savings over the next few years, provides utility companies with a challenge as well as an opportunity.
Are you resolved in 2015 to make significant strides to get ahead of the regulations and grab the opportunities? Contact one of our experts today to find out how easy it can be to tap the small business market for savings.