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Meet 3 utilities that inspired us at the 2016 PowerUp Awards

Every year, our clients take bold action to evolve our industry. They advance the field of demand management. They launch pioneering digitalization strategies. They make AMI real for their customers. They explore new business models. They lay the foundation for a clean energy future. We invite utility leaders from all over the world to share those stories at PowerUp, our annual client summit that’s kicking off right now in Miami. Last night, our cofounders Dan and Alex were proud to hand out the first-ever PowerUp Awards — a small token to recognize utility innovators who inspire us. These were three of the winners.

Best Marketing Campaign: ENMAX Energy

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ENMAX Sales and Marketing Manager Matt Coad joined Opower’s cofounders on stage to accept the award.[/caption] This year, ENMAX Energy launched a comprehensive customer engagement program called MyEnergy IQ, which features a suite of digital tools to help Albertans take control of their energy use and lower their bills. What makes MyEnergy IQ unique is the marketing campaign that ENMAX built behind it. Recognizing that customer engagement programs live or die by customer education and awareness, the program managers ran a full-court press to promote ENMAX’s new tools — on its website, in the media, over social platforms, and through a wide range of outbound communications. But it didn’t stop there. ENMAX went all-in on internal communication, using a wide range of channels to not only get employees familiar with the ins and outs of MyEnergy IQ, but to make them champions of the company’s new strategic focus on customer engagement. It was, in short, a model program rollout. It culminated in a huge kickoff event at ENMAX HQ, where ENMAX President and CEO Gianna Manes and our own Alex Laskey unveiled MyEnergy IQ to hundreds of employees and members of the press.

Best Rate Change Engagement Campaign: Hydro Ottawa

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Bryce Conrad, Hydro Ottawa’s President and CEO, joined Dan and Alex on stage at the PowerUp Awards.[/caption] One of the few universally accepted truths about the future of energy is that customers will be making a lot more decisions about who produces their energy, where it comes from, and how much to use. The day when ordinary consumers are buying storage batteries to capitalize on dynamic pricing is still some time off. But utilities and regulators are laying the framework today, putting a larger and larger premium on programs that engage and educate customers about their energy choices. Hydro Ottawa is on the leading edge of that effort. In 2015, it launched an extensive campaign to collect customer feedback on its rate application for the next five years. The company used web content, workshops, focus groups, and phone surveys to help Ottawans understand, in plain English and French, what it was proposing for 2016-2020; assess how much different scenarios would cost; and share their views on the best path forward. Hydro achieved an unprecedented response from its customers. It earned a bevy of positive media coverage. And most importantly, it secured approval from homes and businesses to make new investments in a strong, reliable power grid — even if it meant rates would go up.

Best Digital Transformation: Baltimore Gas & Electric

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America Lesh, Manager of Energy Efficient Programs, accepted the award for BGE.[/caption] The promise of dynamic pricing has been out there a long time. A really, really long time. But it’s gone largely unfulfilled: in 2016, fewer than three percent of U.S. households are on time-varying rates. A few years ago, Baltimore Gas & Electric set out to get not some, but all of its 1.2 million residential customers bought into the idea of dynamic pricing. So it launched a peak-time rebate program called Smart Energy Rewards, which uses near-real-time communications to motivate customers to save energy during critical hours of the year. That meant delivering massive waves of digital messages in minuscule time windows — usually just hours before peak events. In the last event of 2015 alone, BGE sent nearly a million personalized emails to households across its service territory. The strategy is paying off. Take it from BGE’s America Lesh, who was on hand to accept the PowerUp Award tonight. “We invested in upfront education and ongoing engagement to accomplish our smart grid goals,” she noted recently. “The results have beaten our expectations. We now have verified email for nearly 60% of our customers. The high number of quality emails, along with several other factors, helped BGE to achieve 80 percent participation in our peak-time rebate program that delivers between 12 and 18 percent average peak savings.” BGE’s success proves that in a world where dynamic pricing is becoming a reality, digital innovation isn’t a nice-to-have. It’s essential to success.

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