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Customers and Communities

Engaging Customers through
New Technologies

100

homes

Home Energy Reports show residential customers how their energy use stacks up against approximately 100 similar, occupied homes in their area.

At homes and businesses across our service area, PG&E is working to help customers understand, actively manage and save on their energy use. We are rolling out new tools and technologies to spur innovation and provide customers with broader choices for rates, products and services. This includes giving customers detailed usage data so they can track their energy throughout the month and better control energy costs.

Empowering Customers with New Tools and Technologies

The foundation of PG&E’s Smart Grid is the more than nine million electric and gas meters with SmartMeter™ technology now installed at homes and businesses across our service area—the largest such network in North America. The system’s wireless communications capability enables us to provide more reliable service, making it possible to detect service disruptions more quickly and reconnect a customer after a move to a new residence.

SmartMeter™ Gas and Electric Meter Installations (cumulative)

SmartMeter™ technology also enables new tools to help customers learn more about their energy use, better understand how their usage patterns affect their bills and take steps to save energy and money. These tools include time-varying pricing plans—such as PG&E’s Time-of-Use, SmartRate™ and Peak Day Pricing plans—adopted by tens of thousands of customers.

SmartMeter

SmartMeter™ devices provide the foundation for PG&E’s Smart Grid, enhancing customer engagement and service.

SmartMeter™ technology also enables My Energy, an online tool that helps customers see how and when they use energy to reduce their overall energy usage. Through this tool, customers can:

  • Review detailed breakdowns of their energy use patterns, as well as cost data.
  • Perform a rate analysis to determine if they are on the best rate for the way they use energy.
  • Take an online energy survey that yields energy-saving tips based on their household profile and energy-usage patterns.

SmartMeter™ technology-enabled data is also allowing us to alert customers as their monthly usage approaches and crosses certain levels. California electric rates are designed so that rates increase if customers use more than certain amounts of energy during the month. Customers who sign up for PG&E’s Energy Alerts program receive a text alert, email or phone call as they are projected to move into higher-priced electric rate tiers, allowing them to better manage their energy usage and save money.

Home energy report Based on a successful pilot, last year we expanded our Home Energy Reports program, which gives residential customers an analysis of their energy use, along with personalized tips on how they can save energy. The reports show customers how their energy use stacks up against approximately 100 similar, occupied homes in their area. Such comparisons can lead customers to manage their energy better. PG&E expanded the reports to an additional 395,000 customers in 2012, bringing the total enrollment to 637,000 homes. Total energy savings for the pilot during 2010 to 2012 were 49.9 GWh and 1.46 million therms.

PG&E’s Business Energy Checkup enables small and medium business customers to find energy-saving ideas that can lower their operating costs, and programs that offer financial incentives to implement them. The online self-assessment tool helps businesses compare their usage to that of similar companies and encourages them to create an energy action plan for continuous improvement. As customers act on their plan, the tool shows how the changes affect their energy usage.

PG&E also remains focused on testing and piloting new technologies on a small scale before deploying them more broadly. These efforts include trial programs to provide customers with energy usage information via in-home displays. Customers are also testing SmartMeter™-enabled Home Area Networks and new internet- and smartphone-enabled thermostats to help customers manage their energy use.

Innovating with the Press of a Green Button

PG&E responded to a challenge from the White House to design a standard format for customers to access energy usage data online. With the “Green Button,” customers can easily and securely download their personalized energy data.

PG&E was among the first utilities in the country to provide customers with their own data in a portable format that allows them send it to a third party application developer or use it themselves to track their usage. More than a third of PG&E’s customers—2.2 million electric and gas customers—are registered on My Energy and have access to their energy data through the Green Button.

We followed up by introducing Green Button Connect, a trial project that gives customers even greater control over their SmartMeter™ data. With a simple, one-time authorization, Green Button Connect allows customers to easily share their electrical usage data with other authorized companies and service providers. These companies can then “mash up” customer data in unique ways to help customers save energy.

Green Button logo

PG&E joined with the U.S. Department of Energy and Itron, Inc. in 2012 to sponsor a $100,000 competition called Apps for Energy to develop the best Web, mobile or tablet apps using the Green Button. A finalist, PEV4Me, is an app that helps car buyers determine the electricity cost and gas savings of owning an electric vehicle using a customer’s past 12 months of Green Button data. A PG&E customer from Sunnyvale was inspired to create the app after buying an electric car.

The Green Button brings together utilities, customers and technology apps to help customers save energy and money.