The spike in temperature into the 40’s in Melbourne on the weekend got me thinking of the old lady who was ahead of me in the queue at the post office last week. She was beside herself with worry over a “threatening letter” she had received from her electricity retailer. She was “scared” as she did not know how she was going to pay her bill. I wondered what decisions she would have made on the hot night we have just had to keep herself cool and in good health.
In my previous post, I asked whether we should look to enable marketplaces, which bring together consumers and third-party providers of energy services. I proposed anyone – government, utility or private enterprise – be allowed to create such marketplaces.
In this earlier post, I first introduced the idea that utilities should lead the charge in creating such a marketplace as they already had systems and processes in place to source, transport, and store the data. In fact, this is already happening with the likes of PG&E, London Hydro, SDG&E, and others. I realise for many utility executives this concept appears counter-intuitive. Why should a utility open access to its data and invite organisations to introduce services that may eat away at its revenue?
In this, my second part of the series on third party access to energy data, I focus on ‘Services’. Decisions made regarding Services will drive how the end to end solution is to be designed. The objective of a Service is to create something a consumer is aware of, something they perceive to be of value, and comes from a source they trust.
For those that follow my posts, you will know I bang on a lot about utilities focusing services on consumer needs and desires. In an earlier post, I referred to this as designing from the outside in.
This principle of designing from the outside in applies to using third-party access to energy data to create a consumer-focused solution.
My recent blogs have focused on why I believe a Utility should lead the way to enable approved third-party access to energy data. Since those posts, several people have asked me what value this would deliver to the consumer.
If you’re unfamiliar with the term Competitive Monopoly, let me start by giving you some examples. The technology industry has the most recognisable competitive monopolies – such as Facebook, who continues to dominate despite the loads of social networking sites. Similarly, retail giant Amazon dominates its rivals across verticals and geographies and is often heralded as the world’s largest online store. Meanwhile, Google competes with well-known search engines, yet it continues to enjoy massive market share. All of these companies are competitive monopolies. They operate in a competitive market, and yet they have some secret that makes everyone want to use their services and gives them monopolistic characteristics.
The utility of the future will fail or succeed based on how much it collaborates with others and the strength of its partnerships. Sharing information collected from technologies such as smart meters with the community it operates in will be key.
This may all sound counter intuitive. Why make information available that others could potentially use against you? Why make information open so others can provide services and generate revenue that you could have?
I see a lot of articles, and hear a lot of people talk about becoming a digital utility. But what does it mean to you? How do you gauge if you are a digital utility and so what if you are?
There is increasing excitement of late about the potential of peer to peer energy trading. In simple terms, peer to peer trading is the ability for a person to sell the excess electricity they generate to another person or organisation, as opposed to only being allowed to sell your electricity to your utility. But what if we could place a social lens on peer to peer energy trading? What if we had the ability to donate excess energy to a worthy cause?