Thursday, November 1, 2012

Sandy does some good for Smart Grid...

I good friend of mine named Sandy did a lot of important and creative work that moved Smart Grid forward in the areas of cybersecurity and interoperability.  She has since moved on to other areas of work, and I really miss working with her (and the snarky comments we sometimes shared during presentations that had a high verbiage-to-content ratio).

If you know her, you know who I'm talking about.  If you are her, well, drop me a note sometime, OK?

But this is about a different Sandy, the one that's been in the news lately.  The one that has given us a welcome respite from the political campaign news.  (Hey, I live in Ohio.  The "swing state of swing states".  This year, we're under a rather impressive barrage of campaign, material.  But I digress...)

Hurricane Sandy wrought devastation in a lot of places, and the cleanup and recovery will be a massive effort.  However, there are a few bright spots.  Smart Grid News reported on one today:
"I could not only check on repair status for my own home (with crew on site info and estimated time to repair), I could also remotely online check the status of our two rental houses without having to physically drive to each to check them out. This capability alone is a huge plus for consumers."
- unnamed PPL customer
Look at that paragraph again.  Four Five (I kept seeing more as I thought about it...) things are significant here:
  • PPL had the capabilities in place to integrate information from multiple sources.
  • PPL had the capabilities in place to give customers real-time access to important information.
  • PPL gave them that information in a useful form.
  • The customer was aware that it was PPL's Smart Grid implementation made it possible.  (You need to go to the Smart Grid News link to get that aspect.)
  • The customer is aware that there are other benefits.
Is it possible that this customer is a leading-edge geek, or other pro-technology type?  Sure.

Is it possible that this guy is a PPL-paid advocate?  Yes, it's possible.  (I would say that this is tinfoil-hat speculation, but PG&E proved me wrong on that a while ago.)

The point is that PPL  had all the pieces in place for the case to be made from a customer viewpoint.  This is how to make customer acceptance and adoption "go".  Give the customer information, give it to them when they want it, as they want it.

In short, treat customers like customers, not ratepayers.  Give them the tools to make intelligent use of information.  This isn't the whole ball of wax, but it's a start.

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