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The Special Report EPRI: Utilities have a LOT more to learn about what customers want, posted on SmartGridNews.com, ends with "calls for cooperation and collaboration among utilities in their efforts to come up with verifiable business models that yield actionable results for what customers really want. Without that collaboration, getting those valuable results could take a decade or more."

Why wait for so long waiting for collaboration? Under a customer orientation, instead of collaboration, what's needed is to open the power industry to a competition of business models. Please take a look at the post Customer oriented electricity. As can be seen next, the real problem is that the world changed.

In the post The Utilities’ Business Marketing Myopia Manifesto, I quoted that "... utilities did not stop growing because the need for energy based services (light, air conditioning, refrigeration, etc.) declined. That grew. The retail side of utilities are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (competitive retailers, energy services companies, energy management companies, solar panel vendors, demand side energy efficiency suppliers, demand response companies, battery manufacturers) but because they could not be filled by the utilities themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the utility business rather than the energy based services business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were utility oriented instead of services oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented...

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member photo Why do customers need to keep waiting for cooperation among electric utilities that will lead to nowhere? There was one person that told me in a private message that he didn't understand that question. I am writing about the smart grid transformation. Yes most customers don't know yet, but sooner or later they are bound for a big surprise.

I am shifting the expectations 180 degrees. For a long time utilities have been trying to learn how to engage customers to develop their smart grid. Utilities are pushing technology. It's the Smart Grid that's being pushed under a regulator orientation. For customers, that's the wrong approach.

It should be customers pulling technology. I am claiming it's the Smart Market that's being pulled under a customer orientation.

As you saw, that question is based on the short energyblog.com post that introduces "Customer oriented electricity" and "The Utilities' Business Marketing Myopia Manifesto." Think about the railroads marketing myopia. I am now changing the question to make it familiar. Can you please tell me, why did customers needed in any way to wait for cooperation among railroad companies that lead to nowhere?
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/2/12 3:20 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Under the EnergyPulse article, "What to do when customers like gas rationing and politicians better than their utilities? ( http://bit.ly/GMH755 )," by Mark Gabriel, I added a comment that started with:

Quote starts:

I agree with Fred. "Very interesting article. Very informative and useful for me. And very interesting comment Harry." However, I disagree with Mark's conclusions that "As an industry, we need to take the following steps immediately."

Please take a look at the EWPC blog post What electric utilities' customers need, which says:"

In addition, I copied the first comment under this blog post to Mark's article.

Quote ends.

Unless I say so, the comments below, are taken from the interchanges under Mark's article.
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:17 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Jim Beyer wrote on 12.3.12   

In my opinion, electric utilities malign themselves with their customers due to their pettiness. In Michigan, it was due to their squabbles about how much they should pay back consumers for their own generation (solar or wind) even though it represented a teeny tiny percent of their overall generation (less than %0.01).
With respect to hurricane Sandy, I heard much anger at their turn-on policies. They'd get a home that had been damaged and/or partially flooded hooked up again, but they wouldn't turn on the power until the entire home had been inspected so that actually giving it power would be 'safe'. This delayed home being powered for several days. I think they should have at least given the homeowner the option of signing a disclaimer and allowing them to throw their main switch themselves.

The more any entity (gov't or company) seeks to be your nanny, the more competent and responsive it needs to be, lest the 'children' seek to rebel.
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:18 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Michael Keller added on 12.3.12   

This may be a more profound problem than simple better communications.
I believe there is a deep sense of entitlement as well as lack of personnel responsibility in vast segments of the population, with politicians (mostly liberal) preying on this defect by promising benefits while deflecting the spotlight away from their own (and the governments) shortcomings. The liberal media fuels the combustible situation because they are rooting for election of their liberal cohorts.

As Harry observed, large sections of the coastline are built on low-lying land over which the sea washes from time-to-time (and has from time immemorial). Rather than admit this fact, the politicians use the tragedy to further their own political agenda (as in more power and money for themselves).

So what is a utility to do? I suggest simple 30 second or so TV spots showing trucks & crews from all over the country working to fix the disaster, with a small note "This message paid for by the electric utility industry". I suspect EPRI and similar organizations could be persuaded to kick in some money for the spots.

Actions speak louder than words.
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:19 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Quoting Mark, I responded with:

"While utilities measure performance in SAIDI and SAIFI, customers' measure performance in how quickly their lights come back on in comparison to their neighbors." is a great example to contrast the averaged risk service in the old analog TV centered world versus today's individualized risk service in the new digital Internet centered world.

No TV spot will address the discrimination being faced by a customer in an Internet world. Forget regulator oriented electricity, think customer oriented electricity. Yes customers don't need nannies. As the responsibility to serve without discrimination is not available, let customers buy electricity of the risk they are willing to pay for.

That's the marketing myopia – "... utilities did not stop growing because the need for energy based services (light, air conditioning, refrigeration, etc.) declined. That grew. The retail side of utilities are in trouble today not because that need was filled by others (competitive retailers, energy services companies, energy management companies, solar panel vendors, demand side energy efficiency suppliers, demand response companies, battery manufacturers) but because they could not be filled by the utilities themselves. They let others take customers away from them because they assumed themselves to be in the utility business rather than the energy based services business. The reason they defined their industry incorrectly was that they were utility oriented instead of services oriented; they were product oriented instead of customer oriented..."
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:22 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Michael Keller responded on 12.3.12   

... huh? Customers need power without having to engage in complicated arbitrage schemes and allied complications. Seems simple enough. So provide low-cost power.
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:23 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo And this is the last thing I said on 12.3.12

You mean low-cost power... that's also reliable under a responsibility to serve. As can be seen from the above discussion, those days are long gone. That's what the marketing myopia explains.

Customers need to have the opportunity to combine central service with self service under a customer orientation at their discretion at any given moment. That's how people were able to buy cars and fly planes, with other infrastructure that were not rails. A new Energy Policy Act is needed to make use, for example, of the Internet infrastructure that will enable the electricity Smart Market place.

I wrote above that "I am writing about the Smart Grid transformation. Yes most customers don't know yet, but sooner or later they are bound for a big surprise..." All customers need is set and forget systems, that they perceive gives them the value they need in the competitive Smart Market place, like they do, for example, when they buy a computer laptop. The surprise will arrive when the get a proposal they are not expecting but will love. That's what the business model competition is all about.
# Posted By Jose Antonio Vanderhorst-Silverio | 12/4/12 6:25 AM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
 
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