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First Utility to lower energy bills with smart grid software

Smart grid news - by Ann Elise Taylor
6th July 2011
In a move that it says will not cost its customers a penny more, UK independent domestic energy company First Utility has partnered with a US efficiency and smart grid software company to offer a new home energy management service that will cut bills and carbon emissions.
First Utility, which already offers free smart meters to residential customers, has teamed up with OPower on the pilot programme, which will work in consultation with the Behavioral Insights Team in the Cabinet Office and the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) to gather ideas regarding future smart meter policy.

How it will work
The programme will allow data from smart meters provided by First Utility to be fed into software systems designed by Opower. The combination of technologies will be able to analyse homes’ energy consumptions andwill identify and alter unsustainable domestic energy usage. According to the two companies, £400 million in energy costs would be saved if it were installed in all UK households.

"Our experience in the US has taught us that utilities that put the customers first and proactively help them manage their energy use have more engaged and satisfied customers, which is good for business," Alex Laskey, president and co-founder of Opower, said. "We expect that our partnership with First Utility will yield significant savings on bills for households, and plan to share these results with DECC and the Cabinet Office as they consider policies to realise the most customer benefit from smart meters."

Helping customers

Information provided by Opower’s software will include reports offering comparative consumption information and household-specific analysis of consumption patterns, access to an online portal with usage information and alerts that will notify customers of excessive energy use before a pricey bill is received. Smart meters will feed information to the system on a daily basis, allowing it to stay on top of customers’ energy usages.

Communication with customers will be made possible through mailed reports, web portal, e-mail, SMS messages and social media.

The programme’s savings will be independently calculated and assessed by leading academics in the UK.

Google PowerMeter
First Utility, which has 50,000 customers, was until recently partnering with Google on another home energy management software service called PowerMeter. However, last month Google announced it was axing the service to focus its priorities elsewhere.

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