See how Consumers Energy is leveraging real-time utility analytics to inform strategy, planning, & forecasting to accelerate clean energy in Michigan.
In the energy space, the ability to identify and maximize opportunities within each segment of our customer base is at the forefront of what we do. Deep insights that inform strategic direction and help us anticipate bumps in the road are critical to our success.
As a program director for DNV GL, I oversee the commercial and industrial energy efficiency program for Consumers Energy, which offers cash rebates and incentives to customers for completing projects. With more than 125,000 customers, Consumers Energy is on a mission to achieve net zero carbon emissions and meet 90 percent of Michigan’s energy needs with clean energy by 2040.
They’re making some fantastic headway toward achieving this ambitious goal. In their 2020 utility energy efficiency scorecard, the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) ranked Consumers Energy 11th among the 52 largest US electric utilities—a huge leap from 2017 when they were ranked 24th.
While many variables play into their progress, the ability to leverage advanced utility analytics to help guide business strategy and planning and a modern toolset to execute their programs efficiently are vital.
DNV GL recently announced EVOLVE™ Digital Suite, a cloud-based toolset designed to help utilities accelerate their clean energy programs. Formerly under different product names, these tools incorporate decades of DNV GL experience as well as feedback from utilities, trade allies, distributors, and other key players.
I’m a big fan of EVOLVE – especially EVOLVE Intelligence. Enhanced by the magic of machine learning, EVOLVE Intelligence is a data analytics solution that delivers real-time, connected insights that help boost planning, forecasting, and targeting accuracy. The tool can analyze multiple datasets across the utility to deliver end-to-end visibility into areas such as customer and trade ally activity, energy use patterns, market and program activity, and more.
I use EVOLVE Intelligence day in and day out to support Consumers Energy, which has been using EVOLVE for the past several years. In fact, I rely on it so heavily, I often refer to it as my “co-pilot” because it helps me chart our course. In this article, I’ll explore how EVOLVE Intelligence informs strategy and planning to help Consumers Energy make the most of their programs, and how EVOLVE helps them execute on their strategy.
EVOLVE Intelligence powers business strategy
Consumers Energy is always looking for ways to increase productivity and business efficiency, including setting strategic direction. Before EVOLVE Intelligence, we spent a lot of time pulling data from multiple sources to understand areas of opportunity. Based on disparate datasets, we would extrapolate the number of projects required to meet program goals.
With EVOLVE Intelligence, we now have a GPS that pinpoints where we are and helps us map out where we want to be. It tells us the size of the market, how much energy is being used, and how much energy we’ve been able to save year by year. We can get as granular as we like, down to the individual customer.
We use it to compare performance across program years, grouping our customers with similar use patterns and identifying opportunities by industry or geography. And we can do it all quickly and efficiently. At the management level, Consumers Energy monitors progress in real time, giving them confidence in their project portfolio.
At the account management level, Consumers Energy can look at a set of customers and get the intel they need to understand participation levels, pinpoint rebate opportunities, and drive down energy usage and costs.
For example, EVOLVE Intelligence helped us to identify an opportunity for Consumers Energy to help 65 Michigan schools take advantage of more than $800K in rebates. By delivering energy savings through improved lighting, we’ve been able to help these schools put much-needed dollars back into their districts.
EVOLVE Intelligence drives forecasting and planning accuracy
As much as you plan, market conditions are always changing, which means agility is key. The ability to foresee and respond to fluctuations translates to greater success optimizing programs midstream, capitalizing on new opportunities, and sidestepping potential issues.
EVOLVE Intelligence enables this kind of agility. Using machine learning algorithms, EVOLVE Intelligence allows Consumers Energy to be far more proactive by surfacing and contextualizing patterns and trends to provide predictive insights. This gives us the time we need to capture areas of opportunity or identify and avoid potential shortfalls and other issues. It also helps us to anticipate project completion with accuracy, accounting for not only history but individual contractor performance and variables such as product delays.
EVOLVE Digital Solutions deliver more seamless execution
In addition to EVOLVE Intelligence, Consumers Energy takes full advantage of nearly every tool in the full suite to help them execute their programs more successfully. They use EVOLVE CX to deliver an elevated and personalized customer experience. They use EVOLVE Partner Plus to nurture and empower their trade ally ecosystem. They use EVOLVE Impact Flow to streamline project tracking and rebate approvals and EVOLVE Midstream to enables distributors to process incentives at the point of sale.
All these tools are customizable and work together to enable more seamless program execution, so that they can focus on the activities that make the most impact. And because EVOLVE is cloud-based, these tools are available whether working from home or from the office.
“EVOLVE has truly been a game changer for Consumers Energy,” says Rudy Chahine, Program Director Energy Efficiency Programs, Consumers Energy. “These tools, including EVOLVE Intelligence, have freed us up to focus on getting our customers connected with the right products, solutions, contractors, and incentives they need to move the dial on our energy programs and make Michigan a greener place to live.”
I’d encourage you to explore how the EVOLVE Digital Suite, including EVOLVE Intelligence, can help your utility accelerate a clean energy future. If you have questions, be sure to contact us. And if you haven’t already done so, connect with DNV GL on LinkedIn and Twitter.