Saturday, October 24, 2020

Table of Contents for Power Zone

Interview-David Moore (OPower)

Opower looks at India as a potential market


US based Opower is counted among leading global providers of cloud-based software for the utility industry. DAVID MOORE, SENIOR MANAGER OF MARKET DEVELOPMENT & REGULATORY AFFAIRS, OPOWER spoke to VEENA KURUP about the company’s areas of expertise and plans to explore opportunities in the country’s power sector.


Give us a background of your company and your association with India?
Founded in 2007 and publicly traded on the NYSE Opower has been named a Bloomberg New Energy Finance Pioneer, EURELECTRIC’s Company of the Year, and is among the 20 fastest growing tech companies in North America. Opower combines a cloud-based platform, big data, and behavioral science to help utilities around the world reduce energy consumption and improve their relationship with their customers. This helps consumers lower their energy use and costs, and significantly reduces carbon emissions. Opower is transforming the way the world approaches household energy conservation. We partnered with our first utility client in 2007 from a rented desk in San Francisco. Since then, we have grown into a well-capitalised business firm. Together with our clients and their customers, we are saving energy, saving money, and helping to reduce carbon emissions.
Opower looks at India as a potential market. We are here to explore the scope of our business, learn, understand and inform the customers here about the type of services and the benefits that we can bring to their table. We feel that there is massive need for technical solutions like the ones being provided by us for the utility industry, especially for effective energy management. Such form of interactive platforms is successfully being practiced in other sectors like telecommunication, banking, airlines and much more. We believe that through such interactive and customer centric platforms even the utility industries can evidently benefit and contribute towards achieving the larger goal of energy efficiency.


Could you name some of the software from Opower that are employed with profit across the world? What are the tools you offer to bring control in the utilities environment?
Opower is transforming the way utilities relate to their customers. Today, Opower is one of the leading companies contributing to enhance the operational standards of the utility industries. Our solutions have contributed to not just raising operational efficiency of the utility industries but also in enhancing the scope of customer engagement in the whole process of energy management and consumption. Our aim is to not just improve the business interests of utility segment but of the society as a whole. Deployed at over 90 utilities worldwide, the Opower Energy Efficiency solution has produced upwards of 4 TWh of savings to date. And that’s just the start. Opower delivers large-scale energy savings quickly and reliably, yielding more kWh across a territory than other approaches and enables the utilities to meet ambitious energy efficiency mandates while maintaining cost effectiveness. Our demand response solution allows utilities to deploy cost-effective and reliable demand response programs across everyone in their territory, with or without home devices. Furthermore, our digital engagement solution provides utilities with a best-in-class web solution that gives customers the personalised insights on their energy usage pattern. Opower’s Bill Advisor on the other hand helps utilities to improve their bottom line by increasing self service, reducing call volume and motivates customer engagement.


What are the benefits that accrue from Opower’s products and services?
When you look upon the operational pattern being followed in the utilities segment, generally most of the end customers or individual users receive a bill informing about the level of energy consumed and the rate associated with it. Meter data has been existent in the power and energy market since long. Thanks to the rapid advancements in technologies, today even this data is digitised. The impact of mass communication in enhancing operational performances and raising the level of customer participation is already evident in other economic sectors like telecommunication, airlines, banking etc. Our big data solutions act as an analytical tool in understanding the energy usage and in bringing efficiency in energy management. Our solutions, for instance, the one offered to support Smart Metering and Smart Grid, combine the data on energy usage and other publically available data like weather, peak hour usage patterns etc, and ultimately contextualises the content available. Opower solutions enable the end-user, i.e. an ordinary individual, to understand and take control of their energy usage patterns. It also assists the utilities in bringing down the cost involved in operations by making the customer more participative in the energy management process.


Could you talk of the potential, the areas of energy utilities and the opportunities you are looking from India?
We have yet not started our business in India. We have started to engage and understand the Indian market and its requirements for about a year now. However, we are very ambitious and optimistic about the opportunities from India. Especially with the government initiating projects like ‘Smart Cities’ we are very optimistic about the opportunities which will evolve for technical solutions like ours in the near future. Our solutions even play a vital role in the utilisation of renewable energy resources. Our digitised customer interactive solutions can bring an effective transformation in enhancing the scope of clean energy practices seen in India. We look forth to work hand-in-hand with the government owned and even private utilities in raising the bars of energy efficiency and management seen in India. We look forth to bring a responsible transformation in the energy consumption and management practices.


How equipped are your solutions in handling the market’s cost competitive nature?
The utilities can benefit in multiple ways through our software solutions. At a very basic level, by applying big data patterned analytics, the utilities will be able to deliver more value additions to their end-customer and broaden the level of information available on energy usage patterns. The benefits of our solutions are not just limited to financial management but also in achieving energy efficiency, demand side management, monitoring energy usage patterns especially during peak hours and much more. Such platforms make the customer more responsible and give them the ability to take control of their energy usage. The other noteworthy cost effective advantage is the increased digital engagement of end users. For example, such platforms can contribute in bringing a qualitative transformation in the customer mindset towards voluntarily accepting e-billing services. This will result in the operational funds of utilities. We look forth to support the companies involved in power generation and distribution not just as a source of energy but as a responsible energy advisor.


Have you received any business queries or work orders from Indian utilities?
Through our high-end technical platforms we can effectively modernise the operational portfolio of distribution companies and the way they operate in India. During my visit, I have been in dialogue with few of the Indian utilities. The response has been quite positive. The increasing awareness about the benefits of platforms like Big Data, Cloud and Analytics has created a positive mindset among the customers here. We expect our solutions to contribute effectively in India’s growth story in the coming years. Apart from India we have already established our presence in other Asian countries like Japan and Malaysia like TEPCO in Japan and TNB in Malaysia. We work with more than 95 utility partners, including 28 of the 50 largest U.S. electric utilities. Apart from Asia and the US, we even have delivered our services to clients from New Zealand, Australia and France.


What is the level of acceptance among public and private utilities towards such high-end software solutions?
Private companies are obviously more proactive when it comes to the acceptance and utilisation of such technical solutions. However, the focus needs to be upon building and enhancing the ability of any utility firm – be it private or public – to fund primary services like establishing stable transmission and distribution networks even in areas located at off-grid locations. Software solutions like the ones being supplied by Opower can result in better energy usage patterns, increased customer engagement, improved decision making and effective energy management. But, still private owned utilities are more responsive in terms of the acceptance of such technologies. In India, through our dialogues and market analysis, we could see that the private, public and even regulator bodies are gradually becoming more proactive towards such practices. The need of the hour hence is to initiate a pilot sample based project which can help in delivering the message on benefits likely to be accrued through such software. This can widely increase the acceptance level of utilities on a large scale basis.

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