How the utility-customer relationship is changing

How the utility-customer relationship is changingIn a world that has arrived to the current situation of a climatic change alert, in where the majority agents of the society are aligned, at least theoretically, and agree on the fact that it’s time to make a change in the human style of life at all scales, some significant sectors, among which is the energy utilities sector, are evolving from a classic model to a completely new model.

This new model aims to work in favour of a major sustainability of the natural resources. Focusing specifically on the energy sector, the energy transition that can be summarised by the 4Ds:

  • D for decarbonisation. A lower-carbon energy system requires the rapid development of renewable energies. They have begun much more competitive due to the drop in production costs and technological breakthroughs, especially solar power. The increase of renewables in the energy mix worldwide implies a cascade of changes in the energy system.
  • D for decentralisation. In the first instance, a direct consequence is the decentralisation of energy production. The closure of the large fossil power plants lead to a diversification of the energy generation points. The proliferation of renewable generation points located at a much closer distance of the consumption points, changes the way of transport and distribution of the energy. This process of decentralisation is accelerating thanks to the European directives that lead the way to regulatory changes implemented at national level in the European countries. Its effects are most noticeable in countries where behind-the-meter (BTM) energy generation, in which a business or household produces its own energy, has become entrenched. In other laggard countries, for instance, Spain, the process is being slower but currently the new regulation coming is definitely designed to promote and enable a definitive change.
  • D for democratisation. A further consequence of the above explained entails moving forward to the democratisation of energy. This means that public administrations, created with the purpose of defending the interest of citizens have available fundings and can take advantage of local renewable resources. They also facilitate knowledge and economic support so that citizens, private sector and administrations can establish synergies and move to a renewable model. It is possible because renewable resources are very diverse and are spread all over the world and is viable because the technology to do so is within our reach and with costs that will always keep the downward trend.
  • D for digitisation. Over the coming decades, digital technologies are set to make energy systems around the world more connected, intelligent, efficient, reliable and sustainable. Stunning advances in data, analytics and connectivity are enabling a range of new digital applications. Digitised energy systems in the future may be able to identify who needs energy and deliver it at the right time, in the right place and at the lowest cost. 

In this challenge, consumers become producers, managers and users of energy (prosumers). Consequently, the utility-customer relationship is evolving on a par with the evolution of energy management. The challenge utilities face is changing the nature of their relationship with residential customers to drive successful adoption of energy efficiency programs on a larger scale. Utilities are focusing on individual customers more and more to accurately understand how they consume energy in order to provide customized programs and incentives that fit their needs and enable them to monitor and manage their electricity consumption wisely.

Agustina Yara

Calle Jacinto Benavente 2B, Planta Baja. 28232 Las Rozas de Madrid, Spain

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