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Utility Dive: "The house becomes a battery"

Published November 30, 2016

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Nov. 30, 2016 — Kansas City Power & Light is not a utility trying to avoid the future. The energy sector is changing, and between rolling out electric vehicle charge points and upgrading customer equipment inside the home, the utility is embracing that change in its Missouri territory.

Tyson Brown, demand response program manager at KCP&L, runs the utility's residential, industrial and commercial demand management programs. "If it involves kilowatts, it flows through me," he said during a recent conference call hosted by the Peak Load Management Alliance, to highlight the utility's thermostat program.

Using the Missouri Energy Efficiency Investment Act, KCP&L has undertaken to replace about 60,000 thermostats it rolled out under a previous program, "Energy Optimizer," a decade ago. Now in the second of three multi-year tranches of work, the utility is replacing older pager-based devices with new, Wi-Fi enabled Nest devices that will integrate with the utility's demand management program.

And customers get the new thermostats for free, about a $249 incentive right off the bat. Followed by annual incentives to participate in the utility's demand response program, increased comfort in the home and control over energy use.

"We want to be the trusted energy advisor for all of our customers," said Brown.

As utilities begin to evolve, finding new ways to interact with customers and run their businesses, that "trusted energy advisor" concept has become mantra for a legion of power providers. They now see the utility grid and infrastructure as a way to provide a wider range of services that extends far beyond just electricity. But marketing, data analytics and technology development have never been utilities' strong points. And so increasingly they are partnering with tech-savvy businesses to help them create holistic, streamlined offerings that more closely mirror the retail experience customers are now accustomed to.

For that, KCP&L turned to both Nest and CLEAResult, which installs and services the thermostats, operates the call center and services legacy devices ...

Continue reading the full story on Utility Dive.

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