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Information – it is hugely important to the future of energy in our lives. Some call the emerging discipline of making use of it “analytics.”  But that description seems overly technical and inadequate.

How about the “energy app?”

How important will the information upheaval be in an industry set to spend $200 billion on smart grid by 2015, according to some estimates? It will vastly complicate the lives of execs and senior management of utilities and energy companies.

Gregg Kantor, the CEO of Northwest Natural Gas, says, “While today we seem to have more information at our fingertips, more often than not that information makes decisions, harder, not easier.”

I recently was talking with Rodger Smith, senior vice president of Oracle’s utilities global business unit, about this very problem – and opportunity.

We decided that other sectors of the economy have moved more rapidly than energy utilities in using increased information about operations and customers to transform their businesses. With Rodger’s encouragement, I have reached out to two Oracle executives with insights on the powerful role information will play in 21st century enterprises.

Mike Webster, senior vice president of Oracle retail, has penned an op-ed for the upcoming May/June issue of EnergyBiz, “What Utilities Can Learn from Retail.” For your free subscription to this issue and similar features, click here.

Earlier this week I interviewed Bhaskar Gorti, senior vice president of Oracle’s communications global business unit.

Gorti observed, “Real time analytics can be leveraged into the utility market.”

But fixating on billing is a mistake, he said. “Billing is an afterthought.”

Smart communications companies today view their challenge as collaborating with customers to help them manage their use of products and services in real time. The companies are focused on finding ways of delivering services at an ever lower cost, Gorti said.

At the EnergyBiz Leadership Forum in Washington last week, Bob Johnson, Sprint chief service and information technology officer, like Gorti said that telecom’s intense churn in customers has taught the industry to mine growing stockpiles of information to learn what makes customers happy and unhappy.

Energy utilities too, Johnson said, should focus on the value and simplicity of their offerings, how to differentiate their services and innovate and how to improve the customer experience.



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member photo We like to have agents that can work in the background and notify us of important events such as a solar array mis-behaving and requires our attntion. Wattminder is building such a tool. At www.pvwizard.com, our analytics can be accessed on demand and interactively with a solar power owner or operator. In the near future, when machine-to-machine interface is agreed and worked out; this notification will be generated automatically, because the agent is working in the background constantly.
# Posted By Steve Yang, P.E. | 4/2/12 5:24 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Add my vote to the opinion that the last thing people need is to be innundated with data and the need to make more decisions. I agree that intelligent "agents" are the eventual solution, but until then, we need to follow the K.I.S.S. principle. At AES (now Constellation) New Energy a dozen years ago, we implemented a very simple demand response mechanism that provided 80% of the total demand reduction in California that summer. We issued bi-directional satellite pagers to a couple dozen of our largest customers, and relayed them a simple [in] or [out] response form. If they chose the former, they had to perform according to their stated commitment or be penalized. If the latter, no harm no foul. The choice was simple, and the benefits explicit (a pre-determined payment for each MWh of dropped load). Analytics can provide lots of useful data, but if the ultimate choice provided to the end customer is not simple, and the economic benefits not explicit, they won't provide a much more "intelligence" to the energy system.
# Posted By Greg Tinfow | 4/19/12 5:31 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate
member photo Wow 200 billion for a new grid , there has got to be a less expencive alternative, but I sure don't
have the answer.
# Posted By Tom Lyons | 5/18/12 2:39 PM | Report This Comment as Foul/Inappropriate

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