CLEAResult’s Divakar Jandhyala on Demand Response Programs, Customer Engagement, & More
Recently, Virtual Peaker partnered with CLEAResult to help enhance utility demand response programs. The company mission statement to “change the way people use energy,” parallels our own, to help fight climate change through our friendly and accessible cloud-based platform. In our excitement, we sat down with Divakar Jandhyala (DJ), CLEAResult’s Chief Product & Technology Officer, to discuss how our partnership can add value to utility customers, the importance of customer engagement, and so much more.
Tell us a little about CLEAResult and the programs you run for utilities.
CLEAResult is the largest provider of energy efficiency solutions in North America, serving over 130 utility partners across the United States and Canada. We have a proven track record of delivering energy savings in programs serving audiences as diverse as residential homes to large commercial and industrial facilities. Our local teams collaborate with a diverse network of partners, like Virtual Peaker, to deliver personalized services and best-in-class technology that make it easy for utilities and their customers to reduce their energy use and carbon footprint.
Can you dive deep into why our partnership is so vital for utilities?
From a utility operations perspective, the ultimate goal of all demand response programs is the delivery of capacity. A utility needs to know how much capacity a program can deliver at any time, and the program needs to deliver to that forecast so the utility can maintain a stable grid and avoid purchasing more expensive resources. In order to meet this goal, a utility’s customers and their devices need to be connected and ready to respond. However, too often a customer and their devices are disconnected in terms of program design. We do a lot to engage customers and, oftentimes, a different company goes out and tries to get a customer’s devices engaged. Our goal with this partnership is to bring those two services together.
Without a single consistent offering, the solution doesn’t deliver what it promises and leads to a sub-par customer experience. Demand response programs are ultimately about customers. We can have the greatest technology in the world and if the customer says they don’t want to participate, the program will fail. By focusing on their experience, customers are going to understand why they’re in the program, feel like they’re part of something, and are more likely to remain engaged. Bringing CLEAResult and Virtual Peaker together helps utilities understand that and put their best foot forward with their customers to drive engagement and program participation.
What was the primary driver for this new partnership from CLEAResult’s perspective?
Our goal is to engage customers to connect their devices to a reliable, cloud-based solution. What I mean by that is customers are part of energy management around them. It’s combining our experience in customer outreach and engagement with Virtual Peaker’s customer-friendly technology platform to deliver a holistic experience for end customers.
Along with that, our organizations share a common mission-driven culture focused on doing good for our utility clients, their customers, and the planet. While the technology and delivery aspect of the partnership is a natural fit, the alignment of our missions and company cultures helps strengthen our partnership and the solutions we build together.
Why is customer engagement vital for demand-side management programs (including energy efficiency & demand response programs) and, ultimately, for the clean energy transition?
As I said before, without customers there are no demand response programs. Billions of dollars of planned future electrical infrastructure could be rendered unnecessary if we collectively make small changes like turning your air conditioner down on a hot day. That’s a powerful message, and once customers understand that they are part of the solution, it leads to great outcomes. Technology and program design are important for how we deliver these solutions, but we need robust customer education and engagement to deliver the results that our utility clients and all of us want to see.
How will utility clients benefit from the grid-edge capabilities of this integration?
We’re providing a ready-to-use solution for our utility clients. CLEAResult and Virtual Peaker won’t have to build a bunch of integrations or figure out how to work together for each new utility program, through our robust API integrations. Because of that we can come to market faster, deliver to customers faster, and since this is a SaaS product, customers benefit from any change made to the product at any time, sometimes in real-time.
Which regions, states, or markets are particularly ripe for this EE + DR set of solutions?
You might have expected this answer but… all of them! In states and regions with active or mature energy efficiency and demand response markets, this partnership allows us to bring more offerings to utilities. We can add to existing programs without having to rebuild an entire solution.
And in states and regions where programs are still evolving, we’re bringing the most recent innovations in distributed energy management in a ready-to-go solution. They’ll have the best and latest on Day 1, even if they haven’t run a demand response program in the past.
Is there any demand response or green energy technology that you are excited about?
Rather than focus on a single technology, what I’m most excited to see are multi-use products and solutions that bring multiple benefits to the customer at the same time, whether energy-related or not. For existing examples, there are smart thermostats that reduce energy consumption by setting schedules while also enabling DR; water heater controllers that enable DR, while detecting leaks; and customer notification programs that reinforce positive behaviors and good energy habits.
We are excited to see how these multifaceted benefits come together to ensure that utilities no longer think about their solutions as a single offering. Our partnership lets us do this in a way no implementer or technology provider can do separately.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with innovative utilities looking to supercharge their demand-side management programs?
I’ll say it one more time: it all starts with the customer. Utilities should look for solutions that are ready to go and configurable, not customized. You can leverage best practices by working with providers that consider the customer experience first, which will lead to the energy savings that lead to customer satisfaction.
Between the tech disruption of a rapidly growing prosumer-class, to the financial promise of the Inflation Reduction Act, the energy and utility landscape is changing like never before. That’s why we are thrilled to partner with the good people at CLEAResult, who have the same interest in confronting the looming threat of climate change head-on.
As DJ said, “without customers, there is no demand response.” Together, we can overcome the challenges of climate change through easy-to-implement, cloud-based technologies that enable our utility partners to realize their demand flexibility, demand response programs, and DER initiatives, reducing energy costs and enhancing grid resiliency.