The Customer Paradox – with great power comes more (or less) responsibility?

I recently came across a report from the Smart Grid Australia (SGA) board looking at the five energy grid or market disrupters that should be addressed by the energy industry. It’s a good read I have included a hyperlink below. The five disrupters they identified were: Ecosystem of the Grid, Distributed Generation and Storage, Future of Transportation, Renewable Economics and Cost to Value.

In this blog I would like to discuss their findings surrounding one of these, the Ecosystem of the Grid. In the UK, we are now confronted daily with a barrage of energy switching options that still seem to be ineffective in getting the bulk of our population to review their energy tariffs and suppliers. The SGA found that whilst the customer is at the centre of the ecosystem, only 30% understand it. The balance wants a reliable service with minimal cost and effort. IBM reported a similar profile in their Global Utility Consumer Surveys (2007 – 2011), identifying only 40% of energy consumers had an active interest in engaging with their energy choices.

The SGA noted a paradox in customer engagement, customers want to be more in control, but they do not necessarily want to put in any additional effort.

Ergoe Energy has recognised that the imminent digital revolution in the energy ecosystem, made possible by the roll-out of Smart Meters, will give consumers the ability to transform their energy economics, but that empowerment alone is likely to be unsuccessful in making real change unless engagement is improved. For that reason Ergoe is developing new solutions to create a highly interactive platform that will address the customer paradox listed above.

The Ergoe Energy App user can choose to ‘set and forget’ their tariffs for buying and selling energy, or they can elect to actively participate in the process.

Domestic power generation and improvements in power storage will enable domestic users to buy and sell electrical energy at the best available tariff and time to do so. Ergoe sees that the thousands of micro-transactions required will underpin a simple interface that enables energy users to switch tariffs and suppliers with far greater frequency, and to do so without the perceived hassle factors that have impeded greater progress to date.

Understanding the Smart Energy Consumer (2013)
Building our Energy Future – The Five Disrupters (SGA Feb, 2015/6)