Innovative ideas for every utility

5 behavioral demand response results to remember from 2015

Like 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014 before it, 2015 will go down in history as the hottest year ever recorded on earth. Unprecedented summer heat requires unprecedented demand response. And for utilities that use Opower’s DR product, 2015 was a record-breaker. Our clients called more than twice as many events as last year and drove reliable peak savings across the board. Here’s how. The day before peak events, utilities used our platform to target the likeliest households to participate in DR and sent tailored messages encouraging them to reduce peak demand. The next day, customers saved energy during critical hours. The day afterward, we analyzed customers’ AMI data and showed each household personalized feedback about its performance.


Email, phone, and SMS communications during a 2014 BDR event.

 All told, utilities like Pacific Gas & Electric and Hydro Ottawa sent millions of personalized messages this summer. And just like last year, those communications lowered peak demand 3 percent on average — at one-third the cost of traditional DR programs. It was more proof that utilities worldwide can dramatically reduce peak demand using software alone. That wasn’t all we learned. Here are a few more takeaways from 2015’s behavioral demand response season.

1. Behavioral DR is consistent

Last year, customers responded to DR communications month after month, event after event. Utilities saw that same behavioral predictability in 2015. As the season progressed, peak savings stayed rock-solid at 3% and further proved BDR's reliability as a resource.

2. Behavioral DR is persistent

“No news is good news,” Utility Dive wrote this fall. “The big news behind Opower's latest behavioral demand response program results — announced this morning — may be that little has changed in the past year.” Consistency makes for a dull news cycle, but it’s great news for utilities. Our clients used BDR to achieve the same peak savings in 2015 as they did the year before. The data are clearer than ever that personalized communications can drive dependable, predictable peak reduction.

3. Behavioral DR is universal

This summer, Hydro Ottawa became the first non-U.S. utility to deploy behavioral demand response. “I'm glad to say the results this summer were very strong," CEO Bryce Conrad said in a press release. "It's incredible to see a totally software-based solution deliver tangible benefits to both our customers and the power system that serves them." Hydro Ottawa sent more than 550,000 personalized communications and measured 3% average energy savings across 50,000 customers. It’s further evidence that BDR knows no boundaries.

4. Behavioral DR is engaging

Customer participation hit 70 to 90 percent in most peak events this summer. And in follow-up surveys, a comparable proportion of households said they remembered their utilities’ outreach. That level of engagement rivals Home Energy Reports and exceeds almost any other utility program. For utilities that are striving to become trusted energy advisors, BDR offers a powerful new set of tools.

5. Behavioral DR is satisfying

We’ve written before about customer love for behavioral demand response. Participants like taking part in something big, helping their communities during a heat wave, and knocking a few bucks off their bills. This year, new data reinforced that finding. Rigorous customer surveys at multiple utilities measured more than 80 percent customer satisfaction with BDR. That’s even higher than it was last year. Not only that, but customers who participated in BDR scored their utilities higher on several JD Power metrics, like price and corporate citizenship.

bdr-satisfaction-graph Postseason surveys revealed a substantial boost in customer sentiment around price, citizenship, and communications. Increases are absolute percentages measured against customers who did not receive BDR messages.

Opower’s CEO, Dan Yates, put it best. "As utilities face evolving load profiles driven by the introduction of solar and other forms of distributed generation, BDR empowers utilities with a flexible, scalable solution to address their needs now and into the future."


Oracle Utilities, including Opower, partners with the world's hardest working electric, water and natural gas companies to empower, enhance and enable your every single day. From cloud-native products and better grid management tools to support for every single step of your customer's journey, we have the answer. Learn more at oracle.com/utilities. Get specific product information as quick as clicking right here.

Be the first to comment

Comments ( 0 )
Please enter your name.Please provide a valid email address.Please enter a comment.CAPTCHA challenge response provided was incorrect. Please try again.