|Project Title||Borrego Springs Microgrid Demonstration|
|Location||New Orleans, L.A., U.S.A.|
|Time Period of Project||May 10, 2010 - September 30, 2013|
|Link to Project Website||www.entergy.com|
|Key Word||AMI, Pilot, low-income customers, community partners|
ENO’s intent is for the SmartView pilot to serve as a customer behavior study to be used in potentially developing future programs that will assist and empower the low-income demographic segment in managing its energy consumption. The pilot included rebates and incentives for enrollment, peak load reduction/control.In addition, the pilot provided the availability of near real-time energy usage information through a table top in-home display, a programmable communicating thermostat, and/or a web portal that measured the impacts to customer’s energy consumption patterns. The primary measures for gauging the success of these initiatives were: customers’ overall energy use, changes in customers’ load profiles and reduction in peak usage, and the customers’ overall satisfaction and involvement with the programs. Secondary measures included the relative impacts that differing levels of program education had on the primary measures and customer satisfaction.
Customer research began in September 2010, stakeholder training and education began in November 2010, and customer solicitation and enrollment began in December 2010. ENO’s participation goal for this pilot was approximately 10% of the target population. In order to achieve this aggressive goal, the company employed a number of outreach strategies, including working with local community outreach organizations to help solicit, enroll, and educate low-income customers in the pilot programs. As a result, the pilot included 4,500 participants in the various programs.
ENO invited 18 New Orleans area non profit and community development organizations to participate in the solicitation, enrollment, and customer training aspects of the program. Seven nonprofit organizations were contracted at various levels to support the project. The contracts provided a cost structure to incentivize high enrollment rates and covered the cost of materials, supplies, and equipment. These organizations enrolled 39% of the participants.
ENO used a variety of other methods to reach out to its customers and build awareness of the program, including TV, radio, print, and web media; Customer Care Center presence; neighborhood events; a dedicated support call center; bill inserts; outbound phone calls; and targeted mail.
All participants were asked to identify their preferred level of training from three choices:
• Face-to-Face training (“High Touch”): ENO and partners conducted 32 training sessions at various contracted nonprofit locations. 518 customers participated.
• Over-the-Phone training (“Medium Touch”): ENO held ten conference call training sessions. 170 customer participated.
• Mail Instructions (“Low Touch”): All customers who requested mailed instructions or did not specify a training preference were mailed an instruction manual, quick reference guide, and FAQs. 2,000 customers received mail.
Online tutorials, Customer Care center representatives, and a dedicated call center were available to all participants for training and ongoing program support. Please refer to the project final report for additional details.
Entergy New Orleans (ENO) developed and implemented the Smart Grid pilot program to evaluate customer behavior and the impacts of peak time rebates, air conditioning load controls, and other enabling technologies with the potential to reduce low-income customers’ electricity usage and peak demands. The pilot provided the company with valuable information regarding customer acceptance of AMI technologies.
ENO’s SmartView pilot was the only DOE Smart Grid Investment Grant program exclusively focused on low-income customer segments. The program serves to inform future Smart Grid technology programs about the benefits and challenges associated with targeting low-income energy customers. The pilot program’s measurement period began in June 2011 and ended in September 2012, with approximately 4700 participants, or about 10% of the target demographic population.
• Educate low-income customers on the use of new technology in an effort to promote lifestyle changes that lead to lower energy use.
• Engage community partners in order to enhance enrollment.
• Measure customer behavior (including demographics).
• Measure energy-use impacts.
• Measure the value of in-home display devices to customers.
• Assess the level of customer support necessary for broader AMI programs.
This program utilized the active participation of the company, its regulator, and community outreach organizations to successfully introduce AMI technology to the city, to educate the participants, to produce energy savings, and to provide a platform for future AMI implementations.
Although energy savings varied among the treatment groups, 78 to 90% of participants believed they saved money as a result of the program, and the data indicates that 58 to 67% of customers actually saved energy.
Post-pilot surveys found that participants had a very positive experience during the SmartView pilot. Almost all respondents (99%) felt that customer service representatives were “Very Helpful” or “Somewhat Helpful,” with the majority of every treatment group responding “Very Helpful”.
This evaluation also showed that ENO achieved some of the highest rates of customer satisfaction among DOE-funded Smart Grid Pilots. Approximately 92% of SmartView participants would be interested in participating in the program on a permanent basis. Additionally, regarding participant perception of the usefulness of technologies in managing energy consumption, SmartView compares favorably relative to other programs, especially in the IHD category. Beyond the energy savings, peak demand impacts and customer experience benefits, there are several key benefits and lessons learned:
• ENO leveraged its existing relationships with a diverse group of community partners for solicitation and education, for the benefit of the company and its partners and customers.
• The SmartView pilot raised awareness throughout the New Orleans community of the capabilities and benefits of AMI technologies.
• The SmartView pilot provided evidence that the low-income population can benefit from the use of smart grid technologies.
• Low-income customers are very diverse (in terms of education, housing, etc.). A wide variety of contact methods was employed to reach and support the participants throughout the pilot.
• Customer motivation can vary greatly (e.g., some used the IHD every day; others did not). ENO's extensive customer support contributed to the most effective use of the equipment possible.
• Sufficient training was a key success factor, especially for advanced devices and technology.