Having spent a fair bit of time there, I see many parallels between Ontario, Canada and California. One thing that’s very different, though, is customer perception of smart meters. In Ontario, consumers are getting the hoped-for benefits of smart meters, and the utilities, including Toronto Hydro, are winning customer satisfaction awards. It’s a success tale from which other utilities may wish to learn.
What’s different at Toronto Hydro? A focus on delivering benefits to consumers.
For utilities rolling out smart meters, the sheer logistics of installing thousands of smart meters per day tends to capture the mind share of program managers. Instead, Toronto Hydro always views its program from the consumer’s perspective. Toronto Hydro communicated simply and directly with customers prior to installations, letting them know what to expect. Toronto Hydro built a website where customers could view sample smart meter data and explore how they could save money on Time-of-Use rates with a simple bill comparison program.
Then, shortly after the meters were installed, Toronto Hydro provided access to consumers to their detailed, hourly usage information via simple graphics (see below for a current sample). After several months and additional reminders, TH placed all the residential customers on voluntary Time-of-Use rates (customers can opt out if they desire). Between the information feedback received on the website and the new prices, consumers see concrete, daily benefits from their smart meters.
Check out Toronto Hydro, winner of the Association for Energy Service Professionals Outstanding Achievement in Marketing and Communications Award.