Paperless and personal driving digital utility strategies
Utilities are focusing on personalisation and paperless billing as they strive to increase engagement as a result of the digital changes accelerated by the pandemic.
These are among the key trends identified in Questline’s 2021 Energy Utility Benchmarks Report, now in its seventh year, which evaluated digital marketing data from 450 energy utility clients, and more than 356 million email messages.
"Energy utility customers looked to their service providers for aid and education during the 2020 pandemic," said Dave Reim, CEO and President of Questline.
"They opened more emails and engaged with more content than ever before. The true value of a digital customer relationship was realized as utilities who did not have established lines of digital communication struggled to reach customers with important messages during the outbreak. Maintaining and growing these digital relationships will be a priority for energy utilities in 2021."
Accelerated adoption of paperless billing
Data showed a 53% higher click to open rate (CTOR) on eBill campaigns in 2020 compared to 2019. This is the largest jump in Benchmarks Report history, showcasing the willingness of energy consumers to switch to digital solutions for reasons of safety and convenience.
Customers are looking for energy savings
During the initial months of the pandemic customers engaged with promotional emails with an 18% higher open rate and 27% higher click-through rate than the previous year. Messages about energy efficiency proved the most successful, highlighting growing consumer interest in learning ways to save energy and money.
Overall rise in digital engagement
Email open rates hit an all-time high at 28%, a 14% increase from the previous year. Digital adoption accelerated among all audiences as they looked to their energy service providers for help. During the initial months of the pandemic email open rates were 44% higher than the overall benchmark.
Success with personalisation
Segmented eNewsletters saw a 22% higher open rate and 44% higher CTR compared to unsegmented eNewsletters. Energy customers are looking for communications that match their specific needs and utilities are seeing success with more sophisticated and personalized marketing.
Virtual events effective for utility business customers
Webinar production for Questline’s energy utility clients increased by 86% in 2020. Popular events were related to safety and money-saving programs, resonating most with facility managers and key accounts.
Articles remain top content format, with video on the rise
Of top content consumed by residential and business customers, articles made up 62% and 74%, respectively. Video consumption continues to rise in popularity, particularly with residential audiences.
Hydrostor receives $4m funding for A-CAES facility in Canada
Hydrostor has received $4m funding to develop a 300-500MW Advanced Compressed Air Energy Storage (A-CAES) facility in Canada.
The funding will be used to complete essential engineering and planning, and enable Hydrostor to plan construction.
The project will be modeled on Hydrostor’s commercially operating Goderich storage facility, providing up to 12 hours of energy storage.
Hydrostor’s A-CAES system supports Canada’s green economic transition by designing, building, and operating emissions-free energy storage facilities, and employing people, suppliers, and technologies from the oil and gas sector.
The Honorable Seamus O’Regan, Jr. Minister of Natural Resources, said: “Investing in clean technology will lower emissions and increase our competitiveness. This is how we get to net zero by 2050.”
A-CAES has the potential to lower greenhouse gas emissions by enabling the transition to a cleaner and more flexible electricity grid. Specifically, the low-impact and cost-effective technology will reduce the use of fossil fuels and will provide reliable and bankable energy storage solutions for utilities and regulators, while integrating renewable energy for sustainable growth.
Curtis VanWalleghem, Hydrostor’s Chief Executive Officer, said: “We are grateful for the federal government’s support of our long duration energy storage solution that is critical to enabling the clean energy transition. This made-in-Canada solution, with the support of NRCan and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, is ready to be widely deployed within Canada and globally to lower electricity rates and decarbonize the electricity sector."
The Rosamond A-CAES 500MW Project is under advanced development and targeting a 2024 launch. It is designed to turn California’s growing solar and wind resources into on-demand peak capacity while allowing for closure of fossil fuel generating stations.
Hydrostor closed US$37 million (C$49 million) in growth financing in September 2019.