Dutch Utility Changes the Game by Showing Customers How to Buy Less Power

first_img FacebookTwitterLinkedInEmailPrint分享New York Times: When Eneco, a major Dutch utility, tested a promising energy monitor in several dozen homes, things could not have gone much worse. The company making the devices failed to deliver enough of them, and some of those provided did not work.But when Eneco sent workers to recover the monitors, something strange happened — a tenth of customers refused to open their doors. “They wanted to keep it,” said Tako in ’t Veld, a former Eneco executive who now leads the “smart energy” unit at Quby, the company that makes the energy meter. “They were so happy with the energy insight.”The test in 2010 was part of Eneco’s efforts to adapt to upheaval in the energy market. In recent years, large volumes of wind and solar-generated electricity have undermined the economics of traditional power plants and provided the outlines of a future in which conventional power plants no longer supply the bulk of a home’s electricity.Through acquisitions (including of Quby), by nurturing a cluster of start-ups and with other initiatives, Eneco has sought to provide new services to customers — and, in doing so, to enter new sectors, like the charging of electric vehicles and the repair of solar panels. “We said ‘we have to create an increasing customer loyalty by doing something different,’” said Hans Valk, chief executive of Quby and formerly the leader of Eneco’s consumer business. “What we are trying to do is switch from selling a pure commodity to selling energy as a service.”For instance, Eneco owns Jedlix, an electric vehicle charging unit, which has partnerships with Tesla and BMW and allows car owners to recharge their vehicles inexpensively when there are large supplies of renewable energy on the grid. Jedlix sometimes even pays them to do so.Eneco is also starting a business called CrowdNett which, unusually, pays customers for some of their power. Eneco looks for people who already have solar panels at home and tries to sell them a large home battery, like a Tesla Powerwall. Surplus power generated by the solar panels is stored in the battery and Eneco taps into a portion of that storage to help balance the electricity grid. Customers will receive 450 euros, or $530, a year for allowing use of their batteries.Eneco’s leaders concede that they are proceeding more by trial and error than following a grand plan. Still, these efforts may, over time, aid the company’s survival and contribute to creating ways to help consumers shift to cleaner energy.“They are very forward-looking in terms of strategy and mind-set,” said Roberta Bigliani, a vice president at IDC, a market research firm. If Eneco’s experiments flop, though, “they definitely will not be in operation in the future,” she said.So far, the experiment with its wall-mounted energy monitor, known as Toon, has been among its more successful.When Eneco first considered the test, the utility was locked in a profit-zapping battle with competitors, cutting prices for electric power and natural gas while giving customers gifts for signing up. Seeing the danger signs, Eneco’s management decided that a radical change was necessary.The Toon offered Eneco an opportunity to shift course and, despite early teething problems, Eneco expanded the rollout. The meters allow customers to control their domestic heating settings through a smartphone app, and they have displays that show electricity and natural gas consumption in detail, along with other information like weather forecasts.Full Story:  Dutch Utility Bets Its Future on an Unusual Strategy: Selling Less Power Dutch Utility Changes the Game by Showing Customers How to Buy Less Powerlast_img read more

USF-I Advise, Assist Efforts Intensified

first_imgBy Dialogo December 16, 2010 U.S. troops are re-doubling their efforts to advise, assist and equip Iraqi Security Forces in advance of the December 2011 deadline for all American troops to leave the country, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey S. Buchanan said. Buchanan, the director of strategic effects in Baghdad, said the advise and assist mission in Iraq has gone well since the end of the American combat mission in August. But more needs to be done, he said. “We’ve got a lot to accomplish and we are very much geared to getting everything we can do before American forces depart,” Buchanan said. U.S. Forces – Iraq officials are looking at many different options for the next year, he said. “The big idea is we want to get as much done as we can,” Buchanan said. “We don’t want to start withdrawing forces and closing bases now because that’s going to limit what we do.” American forces will probably stay at the current strength through early summer, Buchanan said. The troops are working to transition the police training capability, for example, to the State Department in advance of the withdrawal. Buchanan said the just-under 50,000 American forces now in Iraq also have two other missions to fulfill: conducting partnered counterterrorism operations and working the transition of the mission in the country to a State Department lead. Terrorism is still a problem in Iraq, with al-Qaida trying to stage a comeback, he said. “They have no support among the people,” the general said. “Their attacks continue. Al-Qaida is determined and they have never changed. But they have been degraded through the combined efforts of the Iraqi and American security forces.” Al-Qaida cannot attract money, Iraqis or foreign fighters to their cause, Buchanan said. Iraqi security forces have the security lead in the country and daily attack levels are at their lowest since the beginning of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March 2003. “The ISF continues to do a good job and they continue to improve,” Buchanan said. Two agreements govern the relationship between the United States and Iraq, the general said. The first is the security agreement signed in 2008. Under that, all American troops will leave Iraq by the end of next year. “U.S. Forces Iraq’s mission will be completed and our troop presence will go to zero,” Buchanan said. “But this isn’t really an end, it’s a transition point based on the other agreement we signed: the Strategic Framework Agreement.” That agreement looks at the long-term relationship between the United States and Iraq in agriculture, economic development, governance, education, science and technology and security. The general called the effort a chance to build an “enduring partnership” that will outlast the presence of American forces in the nation. Morale of American forces in Iraq “is pretty high,” the general said. “They are making a difference, and you can see the effects of that difference day-to-day.” Service members who served in Iraq earlier -– especially in 2006 and 2007 -– see an amazing change in the country, he said. “I feel very optimistic about where the Iraqis are headed, because I know where they’re coming from,” Buchanan said. “I’ve seen their growth in quality and quantity over the years. They are getting better and better. We’ve still got a lot of work to do. We’re not done.”last_img read more

CPL not enough to revive West Indies Cricket- Skerritt

first_imgCMC – NEWLY-installed Cricket West Indies president, Ricky Skerritt, believes it will take more than just the Caribbean Premier League to revive cricket’s popularity in the region.He said while the tournament had gained mass-based support, the challenge before CWI was to return cricket to a place of prominence within the West Indian culture, once again creating heroes with the ability to inspire a generation.And the former St Kitts and Nevis government minister said he would be sitting down soon with CPL principals to discuss the tournament.“At the CPL games, there are thousands of young fans having a tremendous party, but that’s not enough to bring cricket’s popularity back,” Skerritt told cricket website, Cricbuzz in a wide-ranging interview.“We also need to have young people wanting to play cricket, not only to ensure we have a wider cadre of players coming through, but also to ensure cricket regains its prominent place in our culture.“We need to have more role models like we did while growing up. When you saw a (Sir Vivian) Richards walk out, we knew he was going to fight a battle on behalf of millions of people in the Caribbean and win it.“Young people here have more role models in soccer than cricket today. We need to create an environment where youngsters are playing cricket and, therefore, aren’t just partying in the stands without having a reasonable idea of what’s taking place on the field.”The CPL was inaugurated in 2013, replacing the Caribbean T20 which was run exclusively by CWI, and is principally run by foreign interests. Featuring six franchises with an array of international and domestic players, the tournament has grown in popularity to become one of the leading T20 domestic leagues across the globe.And while Skerritt said the tournament played a key role in regional cricket development, he pointed out there were improvements which could be made.“The CPL is a good thing but the CPL needs to be better for West Indies cricket than it is currently,” he noted.“The commercial side of the league and its competitiveness with other cricket in the region has caused some concern. The extent to which personnel are brought in from outside is not always understood by local boards.“The CPL, though, is a CWI product. We don’t own it completely, but we do have a small share in it. I’ll be meeting with the CPL people soon and there was already some talk to do more for emerging players so that their system helps West Indies cricket go back to the top of the world.”The CPL is in its seventh year and is set to bowl off in September.last_img read more