Proving the Business Case for the Internet of Things

Oracle helps utilities engage with solar power users

Steve Rogerson
February 5, 2019
 
Software giant Oracle has introduced cloud services to help utilities engage their customers at the grid edge.
 
As emerging energy sources such as solar compel customers to become more active participants in the grid, their energy management needs are getting more complex. California-based Oracle is helping utilities serve as trusted advisors to these increasingly active users with its Oracle Utilities Opower distributed energy resources (DERs) customer engagement cloud service.
 
The offering initially provides rooftop solar customers helpful insight into their utility bills and energy savings and will expand to address other types of DERs in the future such as electric vehicles and residential battery storage.
 
This is one of four added products and more than 100 features in the Opower platform.
 
According to Wood Mackenzie, solar is the second fastest growing resource after natural gas in the USA, and residential solar has grown by more than 500MW every quarter over the past four years. However, many early adopters have been dismayed with their expectation of utility bill savings versus the reality. This is resulting in an influx of calls to their utility provider, which have proven to be up to $8 more expensive and considerably longer than non-solar related calls.
 
Based on research into the solar customer journey, Opower DER addresses these problems by providing utility customers with a personalised set of insights and recommendations relating to their overall energy generation, usage and resulting bill.
 
"Engaging with our customers and providing them clear, consistent information about their energy consumption and production is critical," said Feltrin Davis, manager at Exelon. "With Oracle, we have been able to regularly deploy new web tools for our solar and net energy meter customers and are updating them frequently to ensure we are providing the best experience possible."
 
With Opower, utilities can send new solar customers onboarding communications explaining what to expect and how solar billing works. And new or existing customers can leverage online tools and insights to understand their net energy consumption. In addition, solar users will also have a simple overview of their bills and a comparison of how their energy costs have changed since adopting solar. As a result, they are happier and utilities reduce expensive call centre volume.
 
"As distributed energy resources continue to rise, consumers are becoming more active and in control of their energy footprint, both as users and producers," said Dan Byrnes, SVP of product development at Oracle Utilities. "They are looking to their utility to help guide them throughout this journey and provide the clear, accessible insights they need to make more informed decisions. This innovation is a critical step forward in enabling the kind of deeper relationship between utilities and their customers which is essential as the industry moves towards a more customer-centric grid model."
 
This offering is powered by what is claimed to be the world's largest residential energy data analytics platform with over 1.6 trillion meter reads from more than 60 million households and businesses, across 100 utilities.