CPS Energy reduces peak demand and engages customers with Oracle Opower

Using Opower, the energy provider unveils demand response program to motivate customers to reduce energy use.

Melissa Leymon | June 06, 2024

With a little help from CPS Energy, customers are lowering energy usage, saving money, and contributing to environmental sustainability all while having fun. Customers are reducing their usage significantly during times of peak demand, allowing CPS Energy to achieve its demand reduction goals.

Through its energy conservation program, known as the Sustainable Tomorrow Energy Plan (STEP), CPS Energy has a goal to reduce 410 megawatts of energy demand over the next 5 years. Through STEP, CPS Energy engages customers in a variety of programs to reduce the community’s demand for energy. One of the largest programs is Power Players, a behavioral demand response program designed to motivate customers to reduce energy usage during peak demand. CPS Energy partnered with Oracle to implement this innovative Opower solution.

“Competitive demand response programs empower our customers to actively participate in shaping the energy landscape, leading to a more sustainable and resilient energy future,” said Rudy D. Garza, president and CEO of CPS Energy. “Partnering with our customers through these innovative programs is a new and dynamic approach that will become increasingly important to managing energy demand.”

Customers begin their Power Players journey with a welcome letter at the beginning of the summer. Throughout the summer, when the weather gets hot and the energy markets peak, CPS Energy initiates Power Player events by rapidly contacting customers through personalized Opower emails and phone calls.

The alerts advise customers of peak energy usage days and use gamification to motivate customers to save more than other Power Players in their neighborhood. Opower AI generates personalized recommendations within the alerts to highlight the best ways for each customer to reduce peak energy use and participate in other STEP programs. Follow-up alerts are sent the next day to show participants how they performed in the Power Player game. Throughout these events, customers receive, open, read, and act on millions of alerts—increasing engagement with the utility substantially.

In each of the past three years, CPS Energy called around 9 Power Player events on the hottest days of the summer. CPS Energy engaged 300,000 customers to reduce peak demand during each event.

“Power Players is a simple way to engage our customers in lowering peak energy demand. We have been able to save over 20 megawatts through this program – equaling millions of dollars in customer savings,” said Justin Chamberlain, the Manager of Demand Response Programs at CPS Energy.

CPS Energy’s Power Players have reported improved customer satisfaction and increased their trust in the utility. A survey of Power Players customers showed the program has a positive impact on the customer experience:

  • 93% reported that the program increased or maintained their overall satisfaction with the utility
  • 18% of Power Players customers felt that “CPS Energy creates messages that get my attention”
  • 15% of customers thought that “CPS Energy provides useful suggestions on ways I can lower my bills”

Customers enjoyed their experience so much that they shared Power Players with their friends and on social media platforms. “Opower helped us achieve megawatt savings by creating program awareness and increasing customer satisfaction. We’ve expanded the Power Player program, and we’re counting on it in the years ahead to help us deliver clean, reliable, competitively priced power to the citizens of San Antonio,” says Julie Cain, product manager at CPS Energy.

Melissa Leymon is senior manager for product strategy and marketing at Oracle.

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