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Consumers Energy helping customers save money with largest demand response program in the country

Credit: Photo by Dan LeFebvre on Unsplash

First-of-its-kind deal creates largest smart thermostat driven demand response program in the country, targeting 100,000 homes by 2022

Michigan’s Consumers Energy announced that it will provide customers energy products and guide them individualized actions available to save energy and money through a new deal with connected energy services provider, Uplight.

In the summer of 2019, Consumers Energy deployed an Uplight Orchestrated Energy pilot as part of a plan to provide demand flexibility while the utility begins its transition to 90 percent renewables. Orchestrated Energy’s behavioral science allows the utility to customize a day-ahead schedule for the customer that pre-cools their house based on weather forecasts, the thermal envelope of the house and the load-shifting needs of the grid. The utility achieved an average of nearly 75 percent of available load shifted per 4-hour event. This resulted in an average of 1.2 kW of demand reduction per home and maxed out at 1.6 kW in the best hour. This is more than 2x the demand reductions achieved in comparable programs in the region.

Through the newly announced partnership, Consumers Energy will offer the following interconnected programs:

  • Marketplace: Customers will be able to purchase energy-related products and services and sign up for relevant programs like demand response.
  • Orchestrated Energy: Consumers Energy will be able to shift 20 to 40 percent more load per customer during peak usage through Uplight’s demand management solution.
  • Home Energy Reports: Launching in 2020, more than 300,000 Consumers Energy customers will have access to data-driven and personalized reports that help users adopt more energy efficient behaviors. Depending on the needs of the customer, recommendations will prompt users to take advantage of offerings in the Marketplace and enrollment in Orchestrated Energy.
  • Customer Web Portals: Accessible to all Consumers Energy residential and business customers, this digital customer engagement dashboard shows detailed energy usage information and rate  education alongside personalized tips and actions for energy savings.

“We think that Consumers Energy represents the future for utilities — creating customer journeys that deliver customized energy actions to reduce energy usage and allowing the utility to shift away from coal to renewable energy,” said Adrian Tuck, CEO of Uplight. “The next decade represents a pivotal time for utilities. Consumers Energy is forging a new path focused on better outcomes for customers, and we think others should take note.”

Other Program Highlights Include:

  • Enrollment Multiplier: Uplight’s unique ability to allow a customer to sign up for a demand response program when they purchase a smart thermostat on the Marketplace resulted in higher thermostat sales and higher demand response program enrollment. This connected approach accomplishes enrollment rates as high as 80 percent versus the standard 10-20 percent enrollment rates utilities see using separate processes.
  • Cross-Program Performance: On days when demand response is not required, Consumers Energy will be leveraging the Orchestrated Energy rollout to support demand flexibility.
  • High Customer Satisfaction: Ninety percent of participants in the Consumers Orchestrated Energy program would recommend the program to a friend.
  • Increased Scale: Consumers Energy plans to expand the program to more than 50,000 homes by 2021 and 100,000 homes by 2022, creating the largest smart thermostat demand response programs in the country.

“As part of our Clean Energy Plan, we’ve set a yearly goal to help our customers decrease their energy usage by 2 percent, and we sought out Uplight’s partnership to help us meet our ambitious goal,” said Brian Rich, Senior Vice President of Customer Experience & Technology and Chief Customer Officer at Consumers Energy.

“We’ve seen first-hand how Uplight’s connected products deliver increased energy savings for our customers and create a better customer experience than individual point solutions. We believe Uplight’s tools deployed at scale will play an instrumental role in achieving our Clean Energy Plan.”