Corporate customers pressure electric utilities to step up their game
stephen lacey | greentech media | 17 august 2016
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This month, Apple did something unprecedented in its history. Apple became an energy supplier.
The move itself is not unprecedented. Google did the same thing back in 2010 as it ramped up wind investments to supply its offices and data centers. But the birth of Apple Energy comes amidst a radical change in the way large commercial businesses are procuring their power.
Commenting on this, David states: “It’s all part of this much broader trend that is really starting to pick up.”
Referring to the Nevada companies looking to cut ties with their traditional utility suppliers, David continues: “The remarkable thing is that they're clearly willing to pay a premium to do this. It's all the more remarkable because Nevada Power's parent, NV Energy, had already created a green tariff program after a large data center company threatened to leave. That didn't seem to be enough for some customers.”
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Cherney and PA Consulting found a trend similar to the one identified by RMI. When looking at non-utility companies, Cherney found roughly 1,500 signed contracts for renewable generation. Renewable procurement in all kinds of markets is picking up pace.
David added: “A number of these customers are starting to figure out this space. This is larger than simply clean energy. It's about utilities focusing on understanding the customer.”
In a recent white paper on the next-generation utility customer, PA Consulting identified the need for a new customer-centric approach to engaging customers. In the report, PA stated there is a rich opportunity for utilities to proactively determine their long-term business and customer strategy by taking a horizontal view of customers.
David concluded: “The next-generation utility is going to think through these new types of demands in a much more detailed way. What are the reasons customers are trying to defect? What are their needs? It's a new issue for some utilities, and they're wrestling with it. This is not a death spiral for a regulated utility like NV Energy, but it is a significant challenge. It's certainly not an easy thing to wrap your arms around.”