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The Chapel Group

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Is it time for a national education program on flexible energy?

It saddens me when I hear people, not involved in the utility industry, talk about demand response (DR) as an inconvenience to customers.  It frustrates me when people within the utility industry tell the same story and claim DR will deliver no value.

I believe it’s time for a national education program to create a more informed energy consumer.  We need a campaign that cuts through the complexity and negative spin that many in our industry create.

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In Australia’s rush to adopt Demand Response – who is thinking about the customer?

Demand Response is a hot topic in the Australian energy industry. Its inclusion in Dr Alan Finkel’s report, “Blueprint for the Future: Independent Review into the Future Security of the National Electricity Market” has given it much-needed credibility. The collaboration between ARENA and AEMO, launching a Demand Response (DR) initiative to secure 160MW of DR capacity has made it very real. Vendors are entering the market at pace. Energy retailers, network businesses, and energy aggregators seem to be announcing new pilots every other day. Despite all this activity, there is not much talk about customer experience.

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If not Demand Response, then what?

‘Demand Response’ continues to get increased attention in the Australian media. It is interesting that even when discussing this activity outside of utilities, we have retained the term Demand Response. I don’t know why. Demand Response, or DR, as we call it, is an industry term and means nothing to the average energy consumer. Shouldn’t we begin referring to it as something that everyone can understand?

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The importance of good program design in Demand Response

Demand Response (DR) is finally starting to pick up momentum in Australia. We have an opportunity to get it right the first time, to learn from others and not miss out vital steps.

The idea of Demand Response is to reduce or shift energy use during a particular period. We can do this by collaborating with consumers, influencing them to change behaviour or allowing us to remotely control their devices.

But how do you know if a customer changes their energy use because of your program? How do you know their energy use would not have been the same, even without the DR event?

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What role should energy companies play in connected homes?

I have written about the connected home, and how the giant is now awakening.  Both startups and established players are entering this space with everyone from home entertainment to white goods manufacturers.  Those of us in the energy industry need to ask ourselves, what will our future role be in this space?  At this stage in the evolution of the connected home, we just don’t know.

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3 steps to resolving Australia’s soaring retail energy prices

Malcolm Turnbull has summoned the heads of Energy Retailers to provide more information to consumers.  This change is aimed at helping the community make better energy decisions…but in my opinion, it is not going to deliver any meaningful results.  Why?  Because if we are serious about helping consumers ensure they are on the best plan and are making informed decisions on how they consume energy, we must give them, and approved third parties, easy and timely access to their energy.  Telling the retailer to give customers more information will only cause more marketing.  However, if the energy data is made available to third parties such as price comparison sites, it will generate innovation, take advantage of the open market structure, and ensure retailers put their best foot forward.  This also creates much needed trust and transparency in the market.

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Is policy killing innovation to access energy data?

I’m over the halfway mark of my new book, “The Digital Utility: How To Use Energy Data To Deliver Customer Value”.  I have been wondering how policy has such a profound effect on many people’s ability to innovate?

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Has the giant awoken?

Many of us in the utility industry have suggested consumer adoption of home automation is a ‘sleeping giant’.  One that could transform residential demand-side management.

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What will Australia’s future electric metering landscape look like?

Reforms are sweeping through the Australian electricity industry. As part of its Power of Choice (PoC) program, we will see massive changes to the way the industry manages meters and meter data. In most countries around the world, it is the network part of a Utility who is responsible for managing meters and meter data. In Australia, from December 2017, the responsibility will move to the energy retailer.

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