Last week in San Antonio, Texas, about 150 DISTRIBUTECH stakeholders convened to discuss industry trends, best practices for marketing and sales in the utility industry and set the educational agenda for the 2020 event.
Just over 20 years have passed since all New England states, except Vermont, restructured electric service to enable competitive retail supply and implemented basic protections focused on licensing, enrollment standards, customer notices and contractual protections. In recent years, additional rules have been implemented, such as credit card-style “Schumer Box” contract summaries, standard renewal notices 30-60 days prior to contract end, disclosures specific to variable price products, and minimum conduct standards for door-to-door sales. As New England heads towards its third decade of retail electric competition, the next evolution of rules and enforcement priorities is underway. The following new front-line issues, which hold the promise of both hindering and fostering competition, should be watched by all stakeholders.
As the smart home market heats up, digitalization, changing customer demand, and innovation in home energy management technology has opened the door for electric utilities to get in on the game. While tech companies’ access to the home remains siloed to the device level, utilities have the power in the home — literally.
In response to requests from their largest customers, a growing number of utilities across the country have introduced voluntary renewable energy offerings. These programs, often called renewable energy tariffs or green tariffs, reflect a fundamental shift in the relationship customers want with their electricity providers. Instead of simply expecting utilities to provide reliable service at the lowest possible cost, companies now want to partner with their utilities to ensure that the source of this low-cost, reliable power also aligns with their organizational needs. For the growing number of companies that have set renewable energy or sustainability goals, this means increased access to renewables and other forms of advanced energy.
California’s energy utilities have lived in a challenging world for decades, in part due to state policymakers’ insistence on costly and often risky initiatives that haven’t always worked out. Consumers pay the price through some of the nation’s highest rates for service. But the situation now facing PG&E breaks new ground and poses fundamental questions for not just the company and its investors, but also the public.
Aeriosense Technologies announced this week that LOOKNorth, the Canadian Centre of Excellence for Commercialization and Research for remote sensing innovation, has awarded it strategic project funding for the acceleration of UAS-based beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) operations.