A New Target for Utility Demand-Side Management Programs

In a blog for Advanced Energy Economy, Navigant Research says utilities are targeting small and midsized business customers for programs that save money and energy

While small and midsized business (SMB) customers often make up a significant percentage of a utility’s clientele, they tend to represent the most underserved segment when it comes to demand-side management (DSM) programs.

Brett Feldman, principal research analyst at Navigant Research, said that many utilities are beginning to recognize this and are exploring ways to take action, including through integrated DSM (IDSM) programs. In a blog for Advanced Energy Economy, Feldman wrote that this is because SMBs often have the right characteristics to make them a perfect candidate for DSM.

“They are cost-conscious, and so will be more likely to participate if energy projects can be put in terms that resonate with them,” said Feldman. “They also care about community relations, so if they can show that they are doing something to help the local economy or environment, they will find value.”

Feldman added that, historically, utilities have had success reaching large commercial and industrial customers through account managers catering to their service needs. On the residential side, mass marketing techniques like direct mail, door-to-door canvassing, social media, and retail channel partnerships, seem to work well. But because SMBs are so prevalent, there are too many for utilities to provide dedicated account managers, and they typically do not have staff resources focused on energy issues, nor do they effectively respond to mass marketing.

Recently, though, Feldman said utilities have started aggressively pursuing SMBs with new IDSM, demand response, and energy efficiency product offerings to better leverage this untapped load resource and engage them to help improve J.D. Power customer satisfaction scores.

Learn more in Feldman's blog, and for more information on this topic, join him, along with Itron's Robert Duval and Duke Energy's Jeremy Morrison, for a free Navigant Research webinar. On Oct. 10 at 2 p.m., the group will share best practices for designing and deploying demand response and energy efficiency programs for SMBs.

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