NewEnergyNews: ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, December 1:

  • TTTA Thursday-First Daughter Ivanka May Fight For Climate
  • TTTA Thursday-Low Profile High Power Ocean Wind Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-A Visionary Solar Power Plant
  • TTTA Thursday-EVs Have A Growth Path
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How The Clean Power Plan Drove The Utility Power Mix Transition
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities Are Answering The Distributed Energy Resources Challenge
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Looking At New Rates To Unlock The Utility Of The Future
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Power Potential Of Personal Wind
  • QUICK NEWS, November 29: Climate Change Forces Hard Choices In Alaska; New Energy To Utilities-“Can’t-Beat-Us-So-Join-Us”; Fact-Checking Trump Hot Air On Wind
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Getting More New Energy On The Grid
  • QUICK NEWS, November 28, 2016: Pope Talks Climate Change At Trump; Solar Comes To The Mall; The Big Possibilities Of Backyard Wind
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Why President Trump Can’t Stop New Energy
  • Weekend Video: 7 Things Climate Change Will Mean
  • Weekend Video: Wireless EV Charging Stations
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-A Picture Of Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Japan’s Toyota Targets Longer Range EV
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Spain’s Bay of Biscay Wave Harvest
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Morocco’s Green Revolution
  • --------------------------

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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • FRIDAY WORLD, December 2:

  • Aussie Farmers Worrying About Climate Change
  • The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 1
  • The Climate Change Solution At Hand, Part 2
  • New Energy And Historic Buildings In Europe

    Wednesday, December 17, 2014

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: HOW SACRAMENTO'S PUBLIC UTILITY IS GETTING IN THE RESIDENTIAL SOLAR BUSINESS

    How Sacramento's public utility is getting in the residential solar business; The new utility business model may simply be answering customers’ questions.

    Herman K. Trabish: August 25, 2014 (Utility Dive)

    In oday’s competitive marketplace of smart and distributed services, utilities do not have ratepayers — they have customers. Utilities can play a crucial role in those customers’ lives if they move beyond just generating, delivering, and billing electricity.

    “Utilities have to think hard about their customer engagement strategies,” explained Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) Solar Retail Strategy Planner Patrick McCoy.

    SMUD is a leader in a booming rooftop solar industry that provided U.S. utilities with 135,000 system interconnections in 2013, bringing the total of interconnected systems to 435,000, representing 10.7 gigawatts of capacity.

    Customers call SMUD daily about solar. They ask whether they should pay cash, take a loan, or lease solar. They ask about the size of the system, the role of battery storage and plug-in vehicles

    “The majority of callers want to know, ‘Is solar right for me?’” McCoy said. “We understand that to mean, ‘Will it provide the kind of savings I expect?’”

    SMUD began last year with about 1,000 interconnected systems but that had doubled to over 2,000 systems by the end of 2013. With falling system prices, that steep growth curve was even unaffected by the drop in California’s rebate to only $0.25 per watt.

    “The industry has provided a great service but it has raised questions for SMUD customers,” McCoy said. “Our local installers’ messages can be misleading and get our customers confused.”

    As a result, SMUD has discovered a new role as “a trusted advisor that helps customers manage costs, evaluate options, and focus on their goals.”

    Things are now “customer-centric,” McCoy said. “SMUD wants to be the preferred resource for all things energy-related. We want our customers to come to us for help in making informed decisions.”

    To do that, SMUD’s internal goals are:

    -getting solar basics right to win customers’ confidence

    -allowing customers’ to “experience excellence” from utility interactions, which means learning communication skills

    -making sure SMUD's solar information is accurate, current, and complete

    -giving up communication channels that are “so 20th century” in favor of community engagement, social media, and self-service online tools.

    Because SMUD program managers now spend half their time fielding basic questions on solar from customers, the utility is working with Clean Power Research (CPR), through a Department of Energy SunShot grant, to develop a software-as-a-service (SaaS) Solar Engagement Platform.

    The platform is being designed, McCoy said, to lead customers to the answer to that fundamental question: “Is solar right for me?”

    How SMUD is leveraging big data for its 'trusted advisor' role

    The scalable, hosted, and customizable CPR software integrates with the utility’s customer portal and can therefore draw on the utility’s database, explained CPR Product Manager Brian Boler.

    Similar independent SaaS advanced solar tools are being built by EnACT, ModSolar, and Genability. SunPower and Sunnova have proprietary in-house tools. All are intended to work with utilities through DOE’s Green Button Initiative.

    Using utilities' assimilated smart meter data and CPR's electric rate and solarirradiance data, the platform becomes “an objective solar decision-making tool,” according to Boler.

    “Utilities have terabytes of data,” McCoy added. “The key in this context is to know and understand customers more intimately.”

    Clicking the solar tab allows customers with smart meters to access the utility’s IT data and advance the process. If there is no smart meter data, the customer can input bill information.

    The software then builds a “solar savings estimate” to offset 80% of the customer’s annual energy use. The calculation comes from actual energy consumption data and, through a mapping tool, actual rooftop space, orientation information and regional solar irradiance data.

    It incorporates federal, state, and local incentives and rebates and allows customers to compare advantages from variables like system size and rates. A final report includes savings, a before-and-after energy use pattern, and a carbon footprint calculation.

    The platform provides a cash flow, bill savings, and payback period analysis with a one-view comparison of cash, loan, and lease options. The user can enter varying interest rates and compare leases with something or nothing down. Data can be viewed as a graph or chart.

    The analysis also includes data on the service territory’s solar users and contact information on local installers, allowing customers to more readily obtain competitive bids.

    Still in beta testing, the platform’s price has not been set but it will eventually be licensed to utilities by CPR on a standard SaaS model, Boler said.

    The value in reduced call volume is worth the price, McCoy said, and it expands the utility’s role as that “trusted advisor.” Customers now expect utilities to provide “comprehensive bundled solutions and service, and that includes integrating solar PV.” McCoy was asked if SMUD is planning to follow Arizona Public Service into the residential solar business. Unlike investor-owned utilities like APS, he replied, a public utility like SMUD would require a private sector partner to be competitive.

    “We are evaluating business opportunities for a direct to customer solar service," he said. "So the answer is yes.”

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