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IDSM: Integration Occurs at the Customer Level

Navigant reports that Integrated Demand Side Management (IDSM) spending is expected to reach $1.2 Billion by 2025. IDSM has the potential to lower program costs, reduce peak demand, increase energy savings, and improve customer satisfaction. In practice, however, integrating historically siloed programs like energy efficiency and demand response is proving to be quite a challenge.

During last week’s AESP National Conference, Tendril’s Jess Melanson, VP of Solutions Marketing, participated on an IDSM related panel along with Tracy Dyke‐Redmond, Senior Analyst at Eversource, Mark Martinez, Manager of DSM Strategy and Compliance at Southern California Edison, and Derek Kirchner, Principal Supervisor of Demand Response at DTE Energy. While IDSM can be defined as the integration of energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation and storage, the panel’s focus was largely specific to integrating EE and DR.

The idea of merging EE and DR can be pretty daunting. Differing program goals and disassociated funding are major barriers when looking to integrate DSM efforts. Despite their structural differences, there is one aspect of both programs where integration is not only easier, but highly necessary, and that is customer delivery. No matter how siloed today’s programs are on the utility end, it should be a seamless experience for the consumer. As Mark Martinez of SCE pointed out, “Customers view it as all the same thing - they want the one-stop shop.”

When SCE first attempted to integrate their DSM programs, they dissolved their individual EE and DR departments in an attempt to develop a common framework. They looked toward cost effectiveness, measurement and verification, and even funding, but each area had such distinct differences they ended up keeping EE and DR in separate portfolios. That’s when they determined that the integration of DSM really happens at the delivery of these programs. Because as Mark noted, customers don’t know (nor particularly care) about the difference between DR and EE. All they see is communication from their utility as a whole.

Jess Melanson of Tendril ran into similar issues during his time at PSE&G. Program execution was siloed and the business goals were different. Misaligned delivery of the different programs caused a disjointed customer experience. “We would knock on customers’ doors once and offer one thing, then knock on the same doors again and offer something else...We lost a lot of opportunities to better serve our customers by not taking an integrated approach,” noted Melanson.

So what can utilities do to integrate EE and DR at the customer level?

Eliminate duplicate program outreach and find the program engagement synergies. There’s really no reason to maintain separate marketing efforts for EE and DR programs. If a brochure for summer readiness is being developed for EE, why not include information about TOU rates? As you’re putting together customer engagement plans to achieve savings for one program, there’s a good chance you’ll find ways to realize savings in the other. For instance, if engineers are going to audit a building for EE, why not look for DR opportunities at the same time?

Use data from one program to inform the other, and vice versa. There’s a lot to learn about the customers participating in your EE and DR programs. For instance, using the data you have on customers achieving savings in your DR programs can help you find the customers most likely to be a good fit for EE offers.

Find dual benefits from singular programs. A recent blog out of ACEEE pointed out that 2/3 of EE savings also result in peak demand reduction. Derek Kirchner of DTE explained that they are now looking at their EE efforts and finding ways to get the demand value for it, and for DR this means it must be actionable, callable and measurable. A good example for this comes with the smart thermostat. Smart thermostats can be marketed to customers as one program, while achieving savings for both EE and DR portfolios.

Are you currently in the process of integrating your demand side management programs? We’d love to hear from you! Join us on Twitter to share your insights, questions and stories. Tweet us at @Tendril.





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