Climate and energy were big news items last week. The main headline was the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a report that observable changes to the climate are occurring. Another report was released by, the Energy Information Agency (but did not get as significant coverage as the IPCC), which showed that energy intensity in the U.S. has dropped by half since 1983. (U.S. energy intensity has fallen by half since 1983, varying greatly by state – Today in Energy – U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)). Energy efficiency programs have no doubt contributed to this trend. Over forty energy industry professionals recently met and discussed best practices in DSM program management using the eTRACK+ platform. This highly interactive session was led by power users from both the gas and electric industries. Presentations highlighted how the eTRACK+ tool kit functions could streamline operations while increasing productivity and efficiency. One utility uses the Document Recognition System to read and analyze one-line diagrams. Another uses the data transfer function to move data between other corporate systems effortlessly. The final presentation featured how the To-Do List capability aids utility personnel in prioritizing projects in a rule-based process.
A large transmission and distribution utility in the middle of massive growth in distributed energy resource installations (over 15,000 installations a year) uses the Document Recognition system to pull information from one-line diagrams and pass installation requests through to completion. Time spent handling these applications has been reduced by 75%, and they could handle the growth without an increase in FTEs. In fact, a good percentage of applications pass through “touch-free.” Recently, a combined gas and electric utility upgraded from an old legacy tracking system to eTRACK+. Part of the new functionality allows them to seamlessly move data to and from other corporate financial or customer information systems. Incentive payments are sent to the financial system where payments are completed, and eTRACK+ is automatically updated with the expenditure information. This represents a considerable time saving as systems are not required to be manually updated. Another transmission and distribution utility is experiencing rapid growth in the installation of distributed energy resources. They use the To-Do list function to organize and prioritize applications and other related work. Projects are picked up by staff for review on a rules-based process. The highest priority projects (by the due date or other attributes) are ranked highest on the list and worked in descending order. This ensures that priority projects are completed in an economical and timely manner.
As the energy intensity of the U.S. improves, DSM programs will continue to be a significant contributor to those achievements. Still, utilities will be challenged to work as cost-effectively as possible. Customers and other stakeholders will require maximum performance from utilities to meet the needed clean energy goals. Systems like eTRACK+ will be at the forefront, providing utilities the capabilities to review and process data efficiently. Users of eTRACK+ have proven they can reduce costs, improve customer service, and free employees to conduct higher-value work.
Written by – Michael Stockard
Michael Stockard is an independent consultant at Stockard Energy Advising and is a member of the Advisory Panel at ANB Systems. Michael has over 40 years of experience in the design and implementation of demand-side management programs.