Handing over control

Do you want Mercury Energy, Contact Energy or Trustpower etc to decide on your next car purchase?

Do you want Google deciding the appropriate time to adjust your thermostat?

All this could be coming to an electrical socket near you shortly according to this article from PEI. Quote.

For a long time utilities have been seeking better ways to engage with their customers.

Jeff Hamel, director of energy and housing partnerships at Google, says that the Nest smart thermostat ? which is part of the hardware product line that Google provides ? is a good example of a simple way that utilities are partnering with their customers.

Google?s program is called Rush-hour Rewards, and it allows customers to agree to let their utility adjust their thermostat during times of peak energy demand. In exchange for allowing their utility to adjust their thermostat, customers get monetary rewards.

Online marketplaces are another example of how utilities are looking to help customers make good decisions about their energy use, says Hamel.

?There is a phrase where utilities want to become the ?trusted energy advisor? for their customers,? he adds, explaining that, for example, Eversource customers in New England in the US would look to their utility ?for anything that they may be needing ? from a smart thermostat to a new air conditioning unit all the way to bigger electric appliances like an electric vehicle?.

?One of the tools they are using to help manifest that is through these utility branded marketplaces,? says Hamel.

EFI, which stands for Energy Federation Inc, is one provider of an online marketplace, as is Simple Energy and new player Enervee. These companies are partnering with utilities to white label a marketplace that offers energy stats about all types of appliances that customers can use to compare one against another.?End of quote.

It would be interesting to know how many people actually buy appliances based upon the efficiency stickers plastered on them. My guess is not very many at all. There are far too many other more important purchase criteria that come into play. Price? Does it do what I want? Does it have all the features I am looking for? Is it a trustworthy brand? Does it have good after sales support? And so on.? Presumably, if there were two possible contenders and the only difference was energy consumption then that may be a factor. Quote.

?There are a handful of these marketplace providers that are helping utilities become energy advisors and helping bring products and services to their customers and in many cases being able to facilitate the discount and the rebates that the programs and products are able to bring as well,? says Hamel.?End of quote.

“Facilitate the discounts and rebates …” Is that code for kickbacks for promoting brands? Quote.

He adds that these marketplaces help utilities ?kill two birds with one stone? because they help the utility help their customers save energy and money while also helping the utility meet energy efficiency and/or electrification goals.

New York?s ConEdison is one example that stands out, says Hamel. The utility is ?actively promoting EV chargers and helping connect consumers with the benefits of electric vehicles?. End of quote.

Now ConEd would not have a vested interest in convincing customers to purchase EVs, would they? Quote.

[Enervee] has recently rolled out Enervee Cars with National Grid and ConEd. Kurwig says that Enervee?s internal research shows that ?only about 2 per cent of in-market car shoppers actively consider an EV and yet 91 per cent of shoppers want low-cost to operate and 61 per cent want zero-emissions or ?green?. End of quote.

61% want zero-emission or ‘green’ cars but only 2% want EV???? Quote.

Enervee Cars gives all vehicles an ?efficiency score? and a ?Clear Cost? over five years showing the total cost to operate a vehicle based on the cost of gasoline, electricity cost, and anticipated driving and charging behaviour. […] End of quote.

I wonder if their calculations take into account the enormous environmental impact of mining rare earth metals for the batteries or the downstream problems with disposal of dead batteries?