Cleantech Market Intelligence
Residential DR Gets Boost from Tendril-TEP Pilot Though Market Traction Remains Elusive
Consumer engagement software provider Tendril and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) have concluded a residential demand response (DR) pilot program that yielded encouraging results amidst a U.S. home energy management (HEM) market that is still searching for some significant traction (see Pike Research’s Home Energy Management report for details).
Results from the pilot program among participating TEP customers produced a reduction of 2.3 kW per household for each DR event during the tests. Additional findings from the pilot, according to Tendril, include:
- 72% of participants said they were either very satisfied or satisfied with their overall experience
- 31% logged in to the accompanying Web portal at least once a week, and an additional 31% logged in once per month
- Nearly all participants said they were either very satisfied or somewhat satisfied (53%), or neutral (38%) with the overall power reduction events
The program also yielded an increase in energy awareness of 2.35%, though awareness itself was not a stated goal of the program.
TEP officials were satisfied with the pilot and the capabilities of Tendril’s platform, which enabled the utility to more easily initiate and run the program. So satisfied was TEP that it decided to extend its partnership with Tendril for a new energy awareness program that will use the software provider’s flagship consumer application suite called Energize.
While results from this type of DR pilot program are encouraging for utilities and their customers, the fact that it was a pilot points out one glaring problem: the slow pace at which utilities are moving to implement the latest solutions for HEM. The risk here is “piloting to death” new technology. At some point the pilots have to blossom into full-fledged deployments among a larger portion of a utility’s residential customer base. I’m still waiting.
Perhaps the bigger story for the HEM market and for Tendril was the recent announcement that Tendril and Hitachi have joined forces. The two companies plan to deliver new smart energy applications to consumers by way of set-top boxes, wireless gateways, and other already-in-the-home devices. Seen in its larger context, the Hitachi-Tendril deal adds important players to those already in the mix: Panasonic and smart meter manufacturer Itron are working together in Japan on smart home energy solutions, and Toshiba, which owns Landis+Gyr, has made it known it wants a piece of the U.S. smart home energy market. This activity sounds like good competition and could become the needed catalyst for a more robust HEM marketplace.