Skip to main content

PG&E Pilot Yields 7.7% Energy Savings

Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric utilities in the United States. Over the last several years, PG&E has invested heavily in Smart Grid infrastructure, installing smart meters in millions of homes. The utility’s search for innovative partners led them to select leading energy analytics SaaS provider Bidgely as part of a pilot program rolled out to select PG&E customers in the San Francisco Bay Area. The pilot focused on three key objectives:

  • Technology Evaluation – Demonstrate the value of Home Area Network (HAN) technology as a means to engage consumers.
  • Impact on Demand Response – Verify that HAN solutions can be used to reliably deliver pricing and other demand response event-based messages to customers.
  • Impact on Customer Energy Efficiency – Verify increased energy savings can be realized through the use of HAN solutions.

Nearly 850 PG&E customers participated in the Bidgely pilot from August 2nd through December 31st, 2014. Participants were either PG&E SmartRate™ or time-of-use (TOU) customers. The key to energy savings under the SmartRate program is the awareness of upcoming or current SmartDay™ rates, where the customer can alter their behavior during certain peak times to cut back on electricity usage and avoid high rate charges.

Bidgely HomeBeat Web & Mobile was deployed to the pilot group to facilitate engagement with PG&E beyond the utility’s existing customer portal. Connected to an in-home ZigBee-based energy monitor, the Bidgely solution offered a personalized view of home energy usage and cost down to the appliance level. Pilot participants were able to view this information, as well as daily summaries of their bill to-date and bill forecasts, 24/7 from any internet-connected device, like their mobile phones. In addition, the Bidgely dashboard featured banner alerts of upcoming SmartDay events, and events in progress, to further drive savings for participants. Finally, current (real-time) rate information was displayed, including the reflection of surcharges.

PGE HAN PILOT IMAGE1

The results of the pilot showed high levels of engagement and energy savings with the pilot group. Customers interacted with Bidgely both on their desktop computers as well as through the mobile app, noting the particular convenience the consumer-friendly app provided. The increased interaction drove heightened awareness of utility-driven messages and enabled substantial energy savings through behavior changes during SmartDay events and peak hours, particularly for time of use customers.

  • 7.7 Average Energy Savings
    Bidgely users on a time of use plan saved nearly three times as much as they would with offline energy efficiency programs alone.
  • 8.1 out of 10 Satisfaction
    Bidgely users felt the platform exceeded their preferences and expectations for new consumer technologies.
  • 6X Levels of Engagement 
    Bidgely users spent six times the amount of time thinking about their utility than the average American does in a year.
  • 75% Retention After Thirty Days
    Bidgely users engaged at a rate over 20 percentage points higher as compared to the average for all apps.
  • 65% Average Email Open Rate
    Bidgely users opened Bidgely emails over three times more than the average open rate for email communications.

Through the pilot, PG&E was able to meet their objectives of proving HAN solutions’ worth in the real world. They verified that the technology functioned reliability, as did the real-time messages executed through the Bidgely solution. Energy savings were realized, and customers had engaged with their utility in a new and meaningful way. Overall, Bidgely was able to transform PG&E’s big data into energy insights that not only further proved the value of their smart grid investments, but also transformed the utility into energy advisors who are well equipped to drive long-term customer satisfaction.

Author Image

Steve

I head marketing at Bidgely. With lots of history in the IoT space, energy and control (homes, buildings, cities and grid), and gaming, you'd hope I have something to say! Let's change the world - Steve

2 thoughts on “PG&E Pilot Yields 7.7% Energy Savings

  1. A 7.7% reduction in energy demand is very exciting! It’s wonderful to see such a large trial! Well done for doing the trial and thank you for sharing these results. Please can I clarify a few details of the trial:

    Did the trial have a control group who did not receive disaggregated energy data? Or did all 850 users receive disaggregated data?

    The trial ran from August to December. In the absence of any intervention, would we expect to see a reduction in energy use over that time period in San Francisco due to, for example, a reduction in the requirement for air conditioning? (Although, according to WikiPedia, the average high temperature is only 20.1°C in August and 13.9°C in December in San Fran, so maybe we’d actually expect an *increase* in energy demand in the absence of any intervention?!) Did the study factor out seasonal effects?

    Do you have a more detailed report available, please?

    Thanks loads,
    Jack

  2. Hi Jack –

    This was a comparison test using both HAN devices w/Bidgely and in-home displays. Since the time of the test, we’ve totally redesigned our app (HomeBeat) and shifted our engagement paradigm to one where we leverage in-home energy activity as a trigger for communications. This increases contextual relevance AND is more welcome according to our users.

    We were very pleased to see a 7.7% reduction in off-peak times. While we could not survey the participants ourselves, we did talk to several and they were very happy to be able to track energy easily to find areas where they could make simple energy habit changes (or form new habits) to achieve the savings off-peak. Once participant I spoke with basically told me that he had already done all he was willing to do so save energy at peak times, but thanks to the test, found that he’d left quite a bit on the table. Simple habitual changes like combining dryer loads made a big difference.

    As to the question of seasonality, you can download the PG&E report from them as there is a methodology section.

    I would also leave you with one other thought, our new app leverages energy use to infer things about the home. The first feature that incorporates this inference is, “Did I leave something on?” Pretty simple, but pretty cool in that it’s the first step for utilities to be able to offer services to consumers that are beyond energy and enter the realm of peace-of-mind.

    Steve

Comments are closed.