Opower: Making utilities and ratepayers happier, greener

Nature of Business radio, created and hosted by Chrissy Coughlin, is a weekly show on business and environment.

I don't know about you, but I find nothing wonderful about receiving my monthly utility bill. I see it, toss it on the desk and kind of hope it will go away, which it, of course, never does. When I finally get around to opening it up, my hope is that it doesn't send me over the edge. Not until speaking with Alex Laskey, founder and president of Opower this week, did I think that I might actually have fun reducing my energy usage and dare I say look forward to receiving my bill.

How?

Opower, a company started in 2007 by Alex and his college classmate and friend, Dan Yates, are overhauling the way utilities interact with customers -- from the quality of the information provided to the way it's presented and delivered.

Through their home energy reports based on sophisticated algorithms and behavioral data, they provide information that is not only relevant to customers, they make it simple and even fun. Smiley faces for reduced energy usage and practical energy tips are examples. They also make it possible to compare energy usage to your neighbors', embedding friendly competition and changing behavior in over 11 million homes to date.

The result? Happy, engaged and efficient customers and happy utilities that are saving money by reducing load during peak hours and changing their image as evil behemoths to energy managers who work with their customers not seemingly against them. More than 70 utilities have jumped on board so far and customers have reduced their energy usage by 2-3 percent on average.

Alex (who is very witty and funny by the way) talks about the company's momentum and challenges and by end of the interview it is clear that Opower is here to stay. Check out their positive and copious press attention, including Marc Gunther's recent GreenBiz piece. Most recently they deftly launched their social energy facebook app allowing people to compare their home's energy use to their friends and other homes across America. Smart, indeed.

Individual empowerment, fatter wallets, and decreased energy use. Sounds good to me.

Enjoy the show!

George Papoulias edited this podcast.

 

 

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