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Tracking the Digital Journey of Indian Utilities from Critical Tech to the Conscious Customer

Ken Haig
Senior Director Regulatory Affairs for Oracle

There is no waiting for the critical tech required for utilities to digitally transform.

Speaking more from a customer centricity perspective and not on the operational/grid side, that technology is already here with smart meters.

What is still needed: more digital touchpoints between the utility and their customers. For example, currently, how many email addresses, mobile phone numbers and SMS/text/WhatsApp-ready contact information do utilities have to communicate with their customers?

Not as many as they need.

It’s not enough to simply have data to share; utilities need to think about how that data can be delivered, and to what end: What’s the value proposition for the end-user customer to whom the data ultimately belongs?

Utilities need to employ cloud-based software that can integrate the data customers are providing and the data from smart meters and home devices (voice assistants, smart meters, etc.) to create meaningful, personalized insights for customers that will steer their behavior towards better energy governance. Having that technology in place that can provide customers real-time alerts via text when their bill is uncharacteristically high or notify them that their costs could be lowered if they moved the time they charge their electric vehicle back to a non-peak hour.

These actions will be key in providing the value customers need to truly participate in energy efficiency programs.  

On the flip side, it’s this kind of software that is pushing data back to the utilities for device/appliance detention and activation, enabling them to better plan and manage both old and new energy needs.

  • One new energy need on the rise: Electric vehicle (EV) detection. That will be a huge boon in the coming years, and the grid simply wasn’t built with this surge in needed power in mind.  In India alone, electric vehicles are expected to have a compound annual growth rate of near 35% until 2025, reaching over $700 million in market value. (This will be further propelled by government initiatives and subsidies.)
  • Another new energy need we’re working on: AMI-based disaggregation, including large appliances such as electric vehicles as noted above, is an important component of both increasing grid resiliency while also engaging customers as it allows utilities to improve grid and resource planning leading to lower operational costs to serve and improvement in SAIDI/CAIFI scores. This also provides hyper-local and personalized insights and tips for energy saving opportunities for customers that improve trust and loyalty.

As part of the continuous investment in improving our AMI disaggregation capabilities, the Oracle Utilities data-science team recently extended our heating and cooling disaggregation with deploying advanced data science based EV and large appliance detection and disaggregation capabilities using 15 min or hourly AMI data.

With billions of such data points being ingested for our roughly 100 clients worldwide, this is a significant leap forward in our existing disaggregation capabilities. Large appliance usage and behavioral insights help utilities significantly boost their customer engagement capabilities with being able to directly embed highly personalized data science insights into customer experiences.

For example, in grid operations and network planning strategy—given double-digit growth of EVs—knowing where (and how) the EV population is growing helps a utility offer their customers the best rates and advise on the most appropriate charging time. It also enables additional business models working with grid edge vendor partners, and supports grid operations planning.

On the operations side, we are regularly adding smart capabilities to our grid technologies to keep up with all new energy needs. Case in point, Oracle Utilities recently added a new distributed energy resource management module to our Network Management System (NMS) that enables utilities to monitor situations in real-time and proactively optimize their broader network in concert with the explosion in emerging energy resources, including solar, wind, EVs and more.

By eliminating data and application silos and giving operators real-time visibility and control across all grid and pipeline assets in a single platform, operators can leverage the most comprehensive, real-time model to ensure a more resilient and efficient grid.

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