With November fast approaching I decided to put down two proposals for changes to
energy policy that actually will work. Not a list of pie in the sky renewable
utopia concepts that have no chance of ever impacting the energy position of
the United States in the global economy…
Step 1: Natural Gas
Pass the new Pickens plan to convert commercial fleet vehicles to natural gas.
Pickens’ Plan proposes that the natural gas that is currently used to fuel power plants be used as a fuel for class 7 and 8 semis.
The technology needed for Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) vehicles such as City buses, fork lifts and passenger cars with CNG drivetrains is available now. Honda sells the Civic GX, with a 170-mile (270 km) range. In addition, it is possible to convert vehicles to run on CNG in addition to leaving the conventional fuel injection intact, allowing the driver to switch back and forth at will. Kits are available for the do-it-yourselfer. One can buy a CNG
compressor called Phill that hooks up to the city natural gas line making it possible to refuel a CNG car at home.
Contact centers have a lot of daily challenges and high on the list is hiring, training and retaining a consistently high-performing organization of customer service agents (CSRs). The technology solutions and procedures chosen to enable, track, and manage the contact center can have a tremendous impact on the costs involved with maintaining the service agent workforce.
Are the tools in your contact center helping to reduce costs and the training time involved with getting a new service agent ready to support customers?
Where do your agents spend the most time referring to procedure documents or other job aids?
If the solutions in place today can’t support the rules and processes for your business, and you are relying on the agents to ensure compliance it leaves your organization in a tough position when senior agents leave.
The absence of relevant metrics and process documentation can lead to call center managers and operators being lulled into a false sense of security.
- Call centers routinely collect data on “average” performance, such as average handle time, average speed of answer and average hold time, without delving into the details behind the averages. Which makes perfect sense from a management standpoint, but large call volumes can smooth out the peaks and valleys of performance over time.
- Call centers typically perform quality reviews on less than one-half percent of calls received. Poor performance by individual employees – and perhaps the overall call center – can go unnoticed because the ‘average’ metrics will not reveal it.
- Call centers often fail to periodically review their processes. When they do, they frequently lack statistically valid data to perform the reviews. Without detailed knowledge of call center processes, utilities are unlikely to recognize and correct problems.
Is it the complex telephony infrastructure?
Are your IVR menus too complicated? Too many levels?
Is the skill based routing off? Hunt groups are setup wrong?
Possibly, but these issues jump off the page and if your call center was having this type of issue, the KPI’s wouldn’t lie. The single biggest expense in any customer-focused call center is labor. Self-service may have exploded in the last decade, but humans are still the foundation to customer satisfaction.
I just finished reading a good article by Kate Rowland at Intelligent Utility about the future of Demand Response 2.0. Most agree that it is one of the keys to a smarter grid, but how to engage customers and drive adoption is still a work in progress.
As I have worked with clients and had discussions with others in the industry, this seems to be a question everyone is pondering. The answers are varied in approach and tone:
- Dynamic Pricing – Whether punitive or incentive-based, hitting the pocket book is almost always effective but can damage the relationship with consumers and make conversations with regulating bodies much more contentious.
- Conservation Programs – Educate the public on the high value of lower demand. Less fuel, less need for additional construction, less reliance on inefficient or dirty generation assets.
- Improved System Stability – DR can be used to avoid brown-outs and reduce the chance of over-capacity problems that plague many systems.
- Cost – Working with the utility to develop profiles that lower overall usage and reduce consumption at times of peak demand can reduce the $/kwh that utilities pass on.
by Adam Cox
Where was Smart Grid and why didn’t it help?
Well now the rubber has really met the road. For the past 24 months consumers have been hearing about Smart Grid, Sustainable Communities, Energy Conservation, etc…and how the grid can now heal itself, blah, blah, blah and they will never be out of power again. We have those really entertaining TV commercials from some large technology and consulting firms to thank for this, plus the oversell done by the federal government and other energy advocacy groups.
By Stephen Daniels
Why didn’t my utility see this coming? I saw the news.
“Winter Blast 2011″… “Lay in heavy supplies, this one is going to be a bear”…”Colder in Dallas than it is in Anchorage today”.
So, I prepared. I rushed to the supermarket and prepared for the blizzard. I called the school weather hotline. No school, thank goodness, so won’t have to worry about getting the kids up and out of the house. Nothing to do now but go to bed and see if we wake up to real snow in Texas.
Smart Grid and smart meters hold the promise of long term consumption management and reduction but how reliable is the new technology? Recently consumers in California have contended that the new meters do not capture consumption at the same rate as traditional meters and have resulted in increased power costs. Are the new meters more accurate than the old meters or are there calibration issues in the new meter technology? The link below is to a recent New York Times article describing what some states and commissions are dealing with.
If additional oversight will be needed to ensure meter benchmarking and calibration testing above what utilities have done historically is required, what is the incremental cost of deployment and long term support going to be?
This question has been floating around for a while now and with the grant release recently it seems like a good time to address this issue.
Couple of interesting facts about smart phones and the market forecast for adoption:
1. GSM and Smart Phones combined made up 63% of the world market in 2006
2. The iPhone & Blackjack for consumers, and Blackberry for businesses have completely changed the way phones are viewed and utilized
3. Each new generation of phones enhances capability and security
In discussions with various utilities and listening to other vendors providing both products and services over the past couple of years I hear a common question, “how do we get started?”
Smart Grid creates a unique challenge, mainly based on the fact that the scope of a given smart grid project can have widely varying scope. It can be targeted to the home, specifically inside the home beyond the meter, or focused on the telecommunications and managing assets more effectively through distribution automation.