• Artificial Intelligence
  • AI
  • Customer Engagement
  • Utility Customer Engagement
  • Utilities

Smart Utilities Embrace AI for Enhanced Customer Engagement

Neil Strother
Dec 09, 2019

Data

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a trendy topic, not only in high tech circles but among utilities as well. Many utilities use AI techniques to increase customer engagement, using data from multiple sources on both sides of the meter. A recent Utility Dive piece notes the rise of AI as a tool for improving customer engagement. Guidehouse Insights, recently published its report, Home Energy Management Overview. The report highlights the same growing adoption of AI and machine learning by utilities to help them drive more meaningful engagements with their residential customers.

Deeper Engagements with AI 

Several examples of how AI enables deeper engagements are worth noting. For one, Evolve Energy in Texas has tapped into the technology in a deregulated market where consumers can choose where they buy energy. The company’s AI-powered app integrates wholesale electricity prices with smart home devices, such as thermostats, to help homeowners lower monthly bills. Users pay $10 a month for the service tied to the app, which uses algorithms to determine when a household could save on expected energy price spikes, cooling a home in the summerahead of a spike, for instance, so the owner saves money and maintains a cool environment. The company’s platform can work with utilities in regulated markets too, with plans to expand there and to international markets.

Rocky Mountain Power(RMP) is another utility using AI. RMP deployed a solution from Bidgely that has helped residential customers generate a reported 41 GWh of energy savings. The utility switched from an existing home energy reports program to one based on Bidgely’s platform. The utility has been sending the AI-powered reports to about 330,000 customers across Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. All of RMP’s 1 million residential customers have access to a web dashboard. The utility lowered its costs by almost 25% and the digital effort has led to more personalized engagement, with a 38% increase in email open rates and 80% more likes.

Similarly, AI is a key element of a new 10-year partnership between AES and Google. The two companies recently announced an alliance in which AI-based technology from Uplight is anticipated to play an important role. Uplight is using Google Cloud technology “to enhance its end-to-end energy action system, to increase customer satisfaction, and reduce carbon emissions.” AES is one of two major investors in Uplight, the other being Rubicon Technology Partners

Part of a Larger Transformation

The rise of AI among utilities is part of the larger digital transformation taking place among many industries. New techniques of using data for positive business outcomes might sound exotic, or even contrived, but there is growing evidence that AI, machine learning, and Internet of Things technologies have great value, showing there is nothing artificial about results. For some additional insights about AI, see the Guidehouse Insights report, AI and Advanced Analytics Overview