Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Over the last several years, PG&E has invested heavily in Smart Grid infrastructure, installing smart meters in millions of homes. The utility’s search for innovative partners led them to select leading energy analytics SaaS provider Bidgely as part of a pilot program rolled out to select PG&E customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The pilot focused on three key objectives:
- Technology Evaluation – Demonstrate the value of Home Area Network (HAN) technology as a means to engage consumers.
- Impact on Demand Response – Verify that HAN solutions can be used to reliably deliver pricing and other demand response event-based messages to customers.
- Impact on Customer Energy Efficiency – Verify increased energy savings can be realized through the use of HAN solutions.
Nearly 850 PG&E customers participated in the Bidgely pilot from August 2nd through December 31st, 2014. Participants were either PG&E SmartRate™ or time-of-use (TOU) customers. The key to energy savings under the SmartRate program is the awareness of upcoming or current SmartDay™ rates, where the customer can alter their behavior during certain peak times to cut back on electricity usage and avoid high rate charges.
Bidgely HomeBeat Web & Mobile was deployed to the pilot group to facilitate engagement with PG&E beyond the utility’s existing customer portal. Connected to an in-home ZigBee-based energy monitor, the Bidgely solution offered a personalized view of home energy usage and cost down to the appliance level. Pilot participants were able to view this information, as well as daily summaries of their bill to-date and bill forecasts, 24/7 from any internet-connected device, like their mobile phones. In addition, the Bidgely dashboard featured banner alerts of upcoming SmartDay events, and events in progress, to further drive savings for participants. Finally, current (real-time) rate information was displayed, including the reflection of surcharges.
The results of the pilot showed high levels of engagement and energy savings with the pilot group. Customers interacted with Bidgely both on their desktop computers as well as through the mobile app, noting the particular convenience the consumer-friendly app provided. The increased interaction drove heightened awareness of utility-driven messages and enabled substantial energy savings through behavior changes during SmartDay events and peak hours, particularly for time of use customers.
- 7.7 Average Energy Savings
Bidgely users on a time of use plan saved nearly three times as much as they would with offline energy efficiency programs alone.
- 8.1 out of 10 Satisfaction
Bidgely users felt the platform exceeded their preferences and expectations for new consumer technologies.
- 6X Levels of Engagement
Bidgely users spent six times the amount of time thinking about their utility than the average American does in a year.
- 75% Retention After Thirty Days
Bidgely users engaged at a rate over 20 percentage points higher as compared to the average for all apps.
- 65% Average Email Open Rate
Bidgely users opened Bidgely emails over three times more than the average open rate for email communications.
Through the pilot, PG&E was able to meet their objectives of proving HAN solutions’ worth in the real world. They verified that the technology functioned reliability, as did the real-time messages executed through the Bidgely solution. Energy savings were realized, and customers had engaged with their utility in a new and meaningful way. Overall, Bidgely was able to transform PG&E’s big data into energy insights that not only further proved the value of their smart grid investments, but also transformed the utility into energy advisors who are well equipped to drive long-term customer satisfaction.