Friday, May 3, 2013

SGCC and DOE working to complete Customer Engagement Guide

By Patty Durand, Executive Director, SGCC

I’m delighted to announce that the U.S. Department of Energy is holding a final in-person workshop to complete its draft of the
Smart Grid Customer Engagement Guide, which should be finalized in the weeks that follow the May 21 meeting in Golden, Colo.

Please note that
registration for the workshop closes on May 14. The power industry, its customers (that’s all of us) and the nation will benefit from having the widest possible expert input into the document.

As the DOE notes: “The success of the smart grid will depend in part on consumers taking a more proactive role in managing their energy use. A best practices guide will provide utilities with successful approaches to engaging customers along with parameters and guidance for measuring the effectiveness of customer engagement programs, filling a real need of utilities and regulators alike.”

I’m urging smart grid stakeholders to send representatives to the workshop to share their real-world experiences to make the Engagement Guide as practical and useful as possible to the widest swath of utilities and their customers, here and, potentially, abroad. After all, the draft document is titled, “Voices of Experience.” Speak up and share your knowledge!

We at the SGCC are in full support of the initiative and the DOE has asked us to take ownership of the document once the Engagement Guide has been published. This is welcome recognition that we have earned a high degree of credibility in our work of three-plus years through our deep and diverse membership, published research and outreach to the power industry’s array of stakeholders. In 36+ months, the SGCC, driven by its members and staff, has become the premier organization linking those stakeholders in a common cause.

For all our members and supporters, you should be proud. This is a significant milestone in the SGCC’s mission “to be the trusted source representing consumers, advocates, utilities and technology providers in order to advance the adoption of a reliable, efficient and secure smart grid and ensure long-lasting sustainable benefits to consumers.”

It’s important to understand that the Engagement Guide has been developed by and for the power industry to help individual utilities to inform and engage their customers about home energy management in an era of grid modernization. The May 21 workshop will complete a process that’s been underway since 2011. The DOE has facilitated this effort for obvious reasons: the American people need to understand the changes in power delivery to their homes involving meters, pricing, reliability, privacy and other issues, and grid modernization’s connection to the nation’s security and economic health. 

Participants in the one-day workshop in Golden will receive the current draft of the Engagement Guide and be asked to assist by adding their real-world experience to craft the most useful document for their power industry peers. The workshop format will include small group discussions on specific sections of the guide followed by “report outs” to the larger group. I look forward to participating in the process and hope you’ll join me.

The goal is to release the guide at the
National Town Meeting on Demand Response and Smart Grid, July 9-11 in Washington, D.C. The SGCC will also introduce the Engagement Guide to its members at its annual members’ event in September, date to be announced.

Whether you’ve been directly involved or not, when you see the Engagement Guide, you’ll instantly recognize its value. It provides practical, how-to direction on organizing and implementing a utility-based customer outreach program that can be tailored to specific circumstances, based on solid research and real-world examples of successful practices.

Let me close by saying how excited I am that this much-needed resource for the power industry and its hundreds of millions of customers is close at hand. Please join us on May 21, if you can.

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