Generating the energy that millennials actually wantPublished: 03/09/18
For decades the energy industry's focus on delivering a reliable, good value supply of electricity has been enough to keep customers happy. But this simple balance is set to be tested as millennials move through adulthood.
A new outlook for a new generation
Much is made of generational differences in newspaper columns and magazines features. The inevitable tensions between parents and children is an enduring source of interest, but rarely are power producers put under the inter-generational microscope.
The reality, however, is that utilities are going to find it challenging to appeal to millennials unless they manage to make some significant changes.
Regulation & clean energy
Millennials are known to take a very different approach to the corporate world compared to their parents and grandparents. According to a recent article by Brookings, millennials expect businesses to be socially conscious. Because of this, they generally mistrust large companies and are in favour of regulation that keeps big business in check.
These priorities could cause problems for utilities not prepared or willing to change. As Brookings writes: "This generation is more disposed to support clean energy, wants more choice in its energy decision-making, and may favorably view government intervention to achieve these goals."
Cheap, convenient and cool
Utilities need to adapt and align themselves with the "three Cs" of the millennial world - cheap, convenient and cool.
Whilst Brookings acknowledges that 'cool' may be a step too far for utilities, and that 'cheap' is something which has always been considered, 'convenient' is a measure of quality that hasn't been a concern for most power producers. However, the technological building blocks to make this possible are already available and, in many cases, are already being put in place.
Smart meters, smart bills
The advent of smart meters can provide the level of personalisation that millennials demand, enabling utilities to provide information about household energy consumption and tariff options that will give this new generation a level of genuine control over their electricity use.
Being able to use real data to plan future behaviour is at the heart of many products & services in the digital age. For millennials, having plentiful data at their fingertips - at any time and on any device - is the ultimate convenience. In a data-dominated age, it's the perfect way to empower modern consumers.
Another way of satisfying this demand for convenience is to look beyond traditional power company products - the provision of a reliable electricity supply - and offer 'packages'. Brookings points to Comcast's partnership with a retail electrical supplier to offer broadband, cable and telecoms services alongside electricity. In the UK, large power suppliers like SSE have picked up on the trend, and offer telecoms and Internet services as well as energy.
Rise of the Prosumer
In large, competitive markets, it's understandable that firms are looking to provide complementary services in order to attract customers. But monopoly suppliers in smaller jurisdictions may not feel they are subject to the same pressures.
From a convenience perspective this may be right. However, another priority for millennials is the provision of 'clean', non-fossil fuel energy. This demand could see growth in decentralised micro-generation as consumers seek to find ways around fossil fuel utility products. Coping with the rise of prosumers (consumers who also produce goods) will require a flexibility that many monopoly suppliers aren't used to delivering.
To meet this challenge, utilities need to partner with technology and software providers such as Jendev. Our products can already accommodate customers who contribute to the grid, with billing reflecting units bought as well as sold.
Adapt to succeed
It's quite possible that the millennial generation will create greater change in the power supply industry than at any previous point in its history. Coping with that change will be vital for all utilities, regardless of whether they operate in a competitive market or not.
The team at Jendev are focused on giving our customers the tools they need to adapt and keep millennials on board, ensuring that both energy producers and consumers are able to complement each other as they move into a new and unfamiliar energy supply landscape.B a c k t o K n o w l e d g e
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