Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part Five

Over the past couple of months, we have been spotlighting our utility customers’ great work during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not only are they providing critical services, they are also promoting health, safety and hope in their communities. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities and provide reliable access to electricity, gas and water during this exceptional time.

CitiPower & Powercor:
CitiPower and Powercor are Victoria, Australia’s largest electricity suppliers, delivering electricity to over 1.1 million residential households and commercial customers across the state. The companies have announced a suite of measures to provide support for residential customers and small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Customers will have access to electricity bill relief under a new support package and may be eligible for further assistance through rebates on network charges. CitiPower and Powercor are also waiving disconnection and/or reconnection fees for small businesses.

Pepco:
Pepco delivers safe and reliable energy to approximately 894,000 customers in the District of Columbia and Maryland. In response to COVID-19, Pepco donated $100,000 to United Way of the National Capital Area’s Emergency Assistance Fund. The fund will be used to promote the health, education and financial stability of the community, especially those residents who have been impacted by restrictions and closures of schools, businesses and community institutions. To proactively ensure safe and reliable service for local hospitals and major medical facilities during the pandemic, Pepco is utilizing drone technology. Crews use the drones to capture video and photos of the aerial equipment that powers critical facilities to identify issues that could potentially result in an outage before one occurs. Pepco is also taking steps to help customers manage their monthly energy bill by suspending service disconnections, waiving new late payment fees and providing energy assistance options.

Xcel:
Xcel Energy is headquartered in Minneapolis, Minnesota and provides energy to millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. Xcel Energy is dedicating $20 million in new funding to support short- and long-term corporate giving across the eight states they serve, including support for COVID-19 recovery efforts. The first part of the donation is designated for existing nonprofit partners along with organizations that address food insecurity and those that provide disaster relief. To further support COVID-19 recovery, Xcel Energy will sell the Mankato Energy Center, a natural gas-fired power plant, and use the net gain on the sale to fund relief efforts. Xcel Energy has also donated over 300,000 protective face masks and other protective equipment to local hospitals and relief organizations.

We thank our customers for their dedication and hard work to serve communities around the globe during these uncertain times. Read the previous blogs in this series, including part one, part two, part three and part four.


Lessons Learned from Global Customer Support Services: The Transition to a Remote Workforce

We are living in unprecedented times. However, the critical role energy and water service providers play throughout this pandemic is as important as ever.

With COVID-19, our lives were turned upside down overnight. And like many of you, Itron’s Global Customer Support Services team had to go from our well-established, comfortable routine to a fully-functioning yet socially-distanced remote workforce at the flip of a switch. As we did, we learned a few lessons about what worked, what didn’t and what we needed to re-engineer to ensure our team is here for you with the level of support you know and expect from Itron.

Going Remote: What We’ve Learned
Itron’s Global Support Services team is used to being on the phone, answering emails and meeting with customers virtually—that’s foundational to our job and our commitment to you. We’ve even provided our employees with remote work options for years. None of this has changed during the pandemic.

What has changed is where we’re getting the work done during the pandemic. Conference rooms are now kitchen tables. Virtual meetings are still virtual, but with way more creative backgrounds. We have evolved our on-premise Automated Call Distribution solution to be a complete cloud-based solution, eliminating the need for hard wired phones and in-house reliability issues. This ensures you have the best experience when you are on the phone with Itron’s support engineers. With the move to a cloud-based solution, we can use the full capabilities of our computers, headsets and external speakers to assist customers every day.

Here’s a snapshot of what our team has learned so far while working remotely:

  • Get to know the new tech. In the office, colleagues had a certain setup for everything—and great IT support staff down the hall. Transitioning to a home office means all that well-established technology is now in your personal space and might function a little differently. So what can you do?
    • Logging in to systems may be different, may take a little longer or may need extra security measures. Make sure you understand and create a checklist for how it all comes together, and keep it close at hand for troubleshooting when something goes awry.
    • When you can, embrace the webcam. It’s not ideal in every instance, but keeping a personal connection isn’t just good for others, it’s good for you, too.
    • If you notice slowdowns or complete drops in internet connectivity, check the router—and then check in with the kids.
  • Stay connected. Yes, internet connectivity is critical to do your job remotely. But while you’re remote, family or pets at home also need some connection time. Make a point to find time throughout your day to check in with them. At Itron, our teams have each other covered to help make this all happen seamlessly and without interruption to you, our customers.
  • Listen more—don’t just hear. We’re all on the phone and in virtual meetings more than ever before. For some, it has been an easy transition—or even a welcome one. But for others, being distanced from peers and “normal” life can start to weigh on them over time. Listen for signs that something is off and be sure to reach out one-on-one to check in. Sometimes a personal touch is all that’s needed.
  • The routine’s the thing. When working remotely, experts recommend setting and maintaining workday hours that are as consistent as possible. It‘s also a great idea to take regular breaks and refocus your attention somewhere else, so you can come back re-energized and ready to tackle whatever’s in front of you.
  • Take your vitamins. Speaking of energy, a little sunshine (vitamin D) and exercise (vitamin E) go a long way toward keeping you engaged, refreshed and able to keep up with the demands of your work-from-home life. Be sure to take care of yourself so you can be there for others.

What have you learned while working remotely? Share your thoughts in the comments below.

Whether we’re working from our homes around the world or at an office, Itron’s Global Customer Support Services team is focused on responsiveness and quickly getting you the answers you need. Contact us today.


Here for You: Itron Global Customer Support Services through COVID-19

We are living in unprecedented times. As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our communities around the world, limit travel and necessitate a wholesale shift in how—and where—we work, we have all had to adapt to the “new normal.” So much has seemingly changed overnight. And yet, some things haven’t, like the essential role our customers play as they deliver critical services—and Itron’s commitment to customer success.

Delivering the Foundation
Energy and water service providers around the world have always formed the foundation of our modern society—after all, energy is prosperity and water is life. But as doctors, nurses, grocery store workers, delivery men and women and so many more essential workers continue to do their jobs on the front lines to fight this pandemic, ensuring electricity, gas and water are delivered safely and reliably is more critical than ever. Together, we’re helping keep the lights on and equipment running at hospitals, keep the temperatures in our homes and businesses comfortable, city streets brightly lit and clean water flowing.

Global Customer Support Services: Here for You
We’ve all had to adapt to a new way of working, with remote teams, obligations at home and potential distractions lurking around every corner. But we are still here for you, as always—and our focus on your success is unwavering.

With nearly 8,000 customers, more than 100 supported solutions and an average tenure of over 12 years, Itron’s Global Customer Support Services team is your partner in delivering those critical energy and water resources—our teams provide end to end solution support to you so you can get back to business quickly and continue doing what you do best: deliver energy and water to our communities.

If you need us, we are here for you. Contact us using whichever method you prefer below. With an average speed to answer of less than one minute, Itron Global Customer Support Services not only knows how to resolve your issues, we do it very quickly and with a high degree of accuracy. Responsiveness, our ability to restore services and ultimately get to the resolution of your issues is our goal.

Contact Us
Phone: 1.877.487.6602
Email: support@itron.com
Web Portal: Itron Access
Live Chat: Option available for select products through Itron Access


Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part Four

As the world continues to navigate through the COVID-19 pandemic, our customers continue to provide critical services, including electricity, gas and water. Not only are they ensuring the reliable delivery of these resources, they are also giving back and helping those in need. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities during this exceptional time.

BC Hydro
BC Hydro is one of the largest energy suppliers in Canada, generating and delivering electricity to 95% of the population of British Columbia and serving over four million people. To support its customers facing financial hardship due to COVID-19, BC Hydro introduced the COVID-19 relief fund. The fund allows eligible residential customers who have experienced job loss to receive three months of free credit on their BC Hydro bill. The fund also provides eligible small businesses with up to three months of waived electricity charges. Additional programs are in place to enable customers to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans.

East Timor Electricity (EDTL)
EDTL provides electricity for East Timor, comprised of the eastern half of the island of Timor. The East Timor government is offering a $15 prepaid credit for more than 160,000 customers across the country to limit the need for people to leave their homes while still ensuring electricity. Similar to other countries around the world, Timor residents have been encouraged to stay home to stop the spread of COVID-19. The electricity credit will help avoid crowds of people gathering to buy electricity credits at the EDTL boxes located throughout Dili and other parts of Timor.

Suez
Headquartered in Paris, France, Suez provides water and waste management solutions that enable cities and industries to optimize their resource management. Suez operates seven energy-from-waste plants equipped with facilities for receiving and treating infectious biomedical waste. As the waste produced by hospitals has grown in the areas most affected by COVID-19, Suez is helping to safely dispose of infectious biomedical waste in France, the Netherlands, China and the Middle East. The waste includes masks, protective gowns and all healthcare textiles. They are heat-treated at combustion temperatures of 1000 to 1100°C, eliminating bacteria and viruses. Suez is also taking action to protect the elderly population with a free pilot service called “ON’connect™ generation.” The services provide family members or caretakers with an analysis of water consumption by reading the elderly person’s smart meter. This gives insight into the person’s wellbeing throughout the day when water is used, such as showering and mealtimes. If unusual behavior is detected, the caretaker receives a notification via a mobile application on their smartphone or tablet.

Stay tuned as we share additional inspiring stories of how our utility customers are promoting health, safety and hope during this challenging time. Read the previous blogs in this series, including part one, part two and part three.


Managing Endpoints Remotely During COVID-19

In these unprecedented times, with the COVID-19 pandemic continuing to impact daily lives and individuals' health, access to essential resources is at the forefront of communities’ priorities. As Itron navigates through this unique situation, we are focused – more than ever – on supporting our customers as they strive to maintain water and energy distribution with a limited workforce in the field.

Managing endpoints and meters in the field can be a challenge amid social distancing guidelines. Designed to simplify data collection and field operations, remote meter reading via a network or through drive-by or walk-by techniques is an immediate answer to the limitations impacting on-site operations in many countries. Communicating remotely with meters or endpoints can help utilities cope with a limited workforce and uncertain environments all the while ensuring employee safety and respecting social distancing rules.

Itron’s recently launched Cyble 5 communication module for utilities and cities in EMEA, Asia-Pacific and Latin America is one example of a remote-reading device with extended connectivity options that offers a practical solution to the working conditions utilities are currently faced with. In North America, Itron’s Encoder Receiver Transmitter (ERT) modules provide similar capabilities.

Looking ahead, the key to supporting our customers tomorrow will be our ability to learn from today's crisis. Deploying solutions that will help prepare for unthinkable situations is an absolute necessity to help maintain the supply of essential resources for populations around the world. With over 80 million mechanical water and gas meters shipped to utilities in 2018, according to IHS Markit, auxiliary communication devices are an accessible solution that could help mitigate the impacts of outbreaks or sanitary crises in the future.

From this perspective, and with a prime focus on supporting customers through those difficult times, our product development team is already working toward designing the next-gen communication solutions that will alleviate the challenges ahead.


Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part Three

Around the globe, our customers are keeping the lights on, the water running and gas services safely connected in a time of crisis, all while giving back. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities during this exceptional time.

Elektro:
Elektro is among the largest electricity distributors in Brazil, serving 228 cities in São Paulo and Grosso do Sul. Amidst COVID-19, Elektro is collecting donations for Transforma Brasil, a non-governmental organization that gathers volunteer initiatives. The donations will be used to assemble 125,000 baskets of goods and hygiene kits to deliver to families in need during this challenging time. To further support the campaign, the company signed a commitment to triple the amount collected internally. Elektro also joined five other companies in the power sector to raise funds for the production and acquisition of diagnostic test kits for COVID-19.

Enedis:
Enedis is the manager of the public electricity distribution network for 95% of mainland France. Recognized by public authorities, Enedis is among the “10 large exemplary companies which have set up accelerated payment for their suppliers.” The company has reduced payment times for small and medium-sized businesses to support their cash flow. To help healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic, Enedis has utilized the company’s 3D printing machines to make protective visors for caregivers. Enedis employees have also volunteered their time by participating in the “Red Cross at Home” initiative. They help at the Red Cross call center by facilitating orders (food, medicine, etc.) from individuals unable to leave their homes.

Singapore Power Group:
Singapore Power Group (SP) is a leading energy utilities company in Asia Pacific, owning and operating electricity and gas transmission and distribution businesses in Singapore and Australia. To support its staff and the community, SP will make a special, one-time payment of $1,500 to more than 400 of its frontline officers. SP is also encouraging employees to contribute to the SP Heartware Fund, which supports programs for senior citizens. The company will match dollar-for-dollar for all employee donations. As electricity consumption increases from more people staying at home to stop the spread of COVID-19, SP launched its newly enhanced carbon footprint calculator, called My Carbon Footprint. The tool enables individuals to be more aware of the environmental impact of their daily actions and adopt behaviors that save energy and money.

Stay tuned as we share additional inspiring stories of how our utility customers are promoting health, safety and hope during this challenging time. Read the previous blogs in this series, including part one and part two.

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Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part Two

Our utility customers continue to keep the lights on, the water running, and gas services safely connected as the world faces a global pandemic. They are not only providing critical services but giving back and helping those in need. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities during this exceptional time.

ComEd
ComEd provides electric service to more than 4 million customers across northern Illinois and is a subsidiary of Exelon Corporation. The Exelon Foundation, along with ComEd and Exelon Generation, recently announced a $2 million donation to the Illinois COVID-19 Response Fund to help residents impacted by the pandemic. Donations will be used to assist those most in need with crucial resources, including emergency food and basic supplies, interim housing and shelter, primary health care services, financial assistance and support for children and other vulnerable populations. To ensure reliable power, ComEd helped to transform the McCormick Place convention center into an alternate care facility for COVID-19 patients. In addition to supporting relief organizations, ComEd will suspend all service disconnections and late payment charges through at least June 1.

Florida Power & Light
Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) provides electricity to more than 5 million customer accounts or an estimated 10 million people across the state of Florida. In response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, FPL issued a one-time decrease of residential customer bills by nearly 25%. To further support the community, FPL, its fellow NextEra Energy companies and employees have also committed nearly $2.75 million in COVID-19 emergency assistance funds that will be distributed directly to those in need and to partner organizations working on the frontlines of the crisis to provide critical support. The utility is also suspending electrical disconnections, providing payment extensions and waiving certain late payment fees for customers.

San Diego Gas & Electric
San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) is a regulated public utility that provides energy service to 3.6 million people through San Diego and southern Orange County. In response to the coronavirus outbreak, SDG&E joined other regional partners to launch the San Diego COVID-19 Community Response Fund. The fund will quickly deploy resources into the community to support programs and organizations supporting impacted populations, particularly those that are disproportionately affected by the global pandemic. As an additional step to help customers, SDG&E will not shut off service to those with unpaid bills until further notice.

Stay tuned as we share additional inspiring stories of how our utility customers are promoting health, safety and hope during this challenging time. To read the first blog in this series, click here. Part three in our series can be read here.


On Earth Day: Opportunities to Create a More Resourceful World

As we recognize the 50th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22, we’re living in a completely different world than just six months ago. Last year’s climate marches and weekly school strikes for climate were historic, with millions of young people taking to the streets around the world to draw attention to the climate crisis and demand action to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, schools and businesses are closed, and the streets are empty—we’re sheltering in place around the world, trying to control the ravages of the COVID-19 pandemic. While many are enduring physical, economic and emotional suffering during the pandemic and the resulting isolation, there are also opportunities for hope and change.

This global pause in travel and work is giving the earth a chance to breathe and remind us of her beauty and fragility. In many countries where millions die annually from causes related to air pollution, people are experiencing fresh air and blue skies for the first time in decades, and a breathtaking glimpse of the Himalayas that has not been seen for 30 years.

As we celebrate Earth Day 2020 this year, we will be meeting and learning together virtually – nationally and globally – reminding us all that we are in this together. It’s a day to consider the positive lessons and actions that we can take forward from this experience.

Here are a few opportunities for positive change and actions to create a more resourceful world:

  • Online learning: With schools and universities forced to shift to online learning, both educators and students are in the process of adapting and learning new skills. A recent article from The World Economic Forum shows that this crisis could be a catalyst for surprising innovations in education, new public-private partnerships and corporate sponsored educational resources as corporations see the imperative of an educated workforce, as well as the need to address the digital divide to ensure equal access to education.
  • Telecommuting: Many companies and their office workers may find that they can get a lot of work done just as efficiently from home. We may realize that we don’t need every employee to commute to the office every day, reducing pollution. While some types of business travel will continue to be necessary, companies may find ways to cut down on air travel, saving money and making a big dent in their carbon footprint.
  • Smarter cities: How can cities be more resilient in a post-pandemic world? In addition to changing how and where people work, another potential change is the intensification of digital infrastructure in cities. Technology and big data can play a bigger role in public health and safety.
  • Disaster preparedness: Having reliable power is even more critical during our current shelter-in-place. Grid operators also employ some of the unsung heroes of the pandemic, working around the clock and in isolation to keep the power on. Utilities are increasingly recognizing the importance of resilience and disaster preparedness with the increase in extreme natural disasters linked to climate change like hurricanes, forest fires, drought and flooding.
  • Resourcefulness: After weeks spending almost all of our time at home, we may be in for a shock when our utility bills arrive. This is a chance to learn how we can change our habits to conserve energy and water. We can also learn about programs like demand response offered by our utilities that provide incentives to reduce peak energy demand and shift time of use.

There’s no question that this experience we are living through is life changing—physically, emotionally and economically. But we can also learn from it and make positive changes to create a more resourceful world.

As we appreciate seeing the blue sky and breathing the clear fresh air this Earth Day, we can experience what’s possible and be reminded of why resourcefulness matters.


Earth Day Will Look a Little Different This Year

Every year, Itron celebrates Earth Day as a way to bring our communities together for a fun day of volunteerism and community engagement across the globe. With nearly 8,000 employees spread around the world, our community champions enjoy leading Itron Earth Day activities and creating educational awareness with STEM education programs, tree plantings, trail clean-ups, and environmentally friendly practices in our buildings and communities.

While the chance to get out and volunteer may look a little different this year—with shelter in place and social distancing guidelines in place worldwide—the planet, and our communities, could use our help more than ever. Here at Itron, our mission and vision are founded on purpose. We know that the way we manage energy and water will define this century and believe that as global citizens, if we work together—even from a distance— we can improve energy-water literacy, encourage conservation and inspire future innovations to shape a more resourceful world.

As we all distance ourselves to “flatten the curve,” we can still stay connected in purpose and support the planet from home together. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Get outdoors and enjoy a nature walk on a local trail or around your neighborhood. Pick up trash along the way.
  • Look for ways to conserve energy and water while working from home.
  • Mentor students with educational resources made available by Itron.
  • Plant a tree or garden, with honeybee-friendly flowers.
  • Build a birdhouse or bird feeder.
  • Have a car-free day.
  • Look at ways you can reduce single-use plastics in your day to day.
  • Share your stories of #resourcefulness at: https://poweroverenergy.org/contest/

How do you plan to celebrate Earth Day this year? Share your ideas in the comments below #earthday2020.


Saluting Our Customers: How Utilities and Cities are Responding to COVID-19 – Part One

The world has found itself in an unprecedented time, navigating a global pandemic. The outbreak of COVID-19 is testing governments, companies and individuals in different ways. Yet, during this difficult time, individuals and organizations around the world are stepping up to help others – and our customers are no different.

Not only are utilities and cities keeping the lights on, the water running and gas services safely connected in a time of crisis, they are giving back. In this blog series, we recognize the honorable actions utilities are taking to support their communities during this exceptional time.

Avista
Based in Spokane County in Washington state, where Itron is also headquartered, Avista Utilities provides electricity to nearly 340,000 customers and natural gas to about 300,000 customers across 30,000 square miles and four northwestern states. In addition to suspending all collection activity and disconnects for customers, Avista will provide more than $560,000 to help those in need. The funds are being distributed to COVID-19 relief funds across the region, non-profit organizations focused on serving members of the restaurant and hospitality industry, and various organizations that provide food for seniors, children and families while schools and meal sites are temporarily closed. To brighten spirits in Spokane, Avista repurposed holiday lights near hospitals to show appreciation for medical professionals.

CenterPoint Energy
CenterPoint Energy, headquartered in Houston, Texas, serves more than 7 million natural gas and electric customers in eight states. The utility recently announced that through its foundation, the company will contribute $1.5 million to nonprofit organizations, agencies and causes that are committed to supporting those who have been impacted by COVID-19. CenterPoint Energy's COVID-19 Relief Fund will include $1 million in direct contributions, as well as up to $500,000 in matching gifts for employees' contributions to qualifying organizations. CenterPoint Energy will also support customers who need payment assistance and has temporarily suspended natural gas service disconnections.

Con Edison
Con Edison’s electric, gas, and steam service provides energy for the 10 million people who live in New York City and Westchester County, which have been hit particularly hard by COVID-19. To help set up a drive-through COVID-19 testing facility, Con Edison added more power to a Coney Island parking lot. As an additional step to help customers through this difficult time, Con Edison will not shut off services for non-payment and is waiving fees for late payments. Last week, the utility lit its iconic Irving Place headquarters clock tower blue in honor of health care professionals, first responders and essential workers.

As part of this blog series, I – along with other Itron leaders – will be sharing additional inspiring stories of how our utility customers are promoting health, safety and hope during this challenging time. Read part two and part three.


Staying Resourceful While Working from Home

As people around the world transition to working remotely amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the world is seeing positive environmental impacts. For the first time since 2009, global emissions are predicted to decline, but unfortunately, they are predicted to roar back when social distancing orders lift. If you are among the many individuals that are working from home during this time, there is a great opportunity to begin adding resourceful practices to your daily life – and continue them into the future when things return to normal.

Conservation is at the heart of Itron’s mission and purpose. The following are quick tips for conserving energy and water. With these small changes, we can all play a part in reducing emissions for the long-term, modeling resourcefulness for our families and preventing an unexpected bill at the end of the month.

  • Open the Blinds: Take advantage of natural light in your workspace, and you won’t have to use overhead lighting or lamps. In addition, don’t forget to turn off lights in spaces that are not being used. Another way to reduce energy costs from lighting is to replace incandescent light bulbs with LED bulbs. By replacing your home's five most frequently used light fixtures or bulbs with energy efficient models, you could save an average of $75 each year.
  • Use a Smart Power Strip: Electronic devices such as computers continue to consume energy even when they are in sleep mode. This accounts for about 8% of annual electricity costs in the average household. Smart power strips can detect when a device is in standby mode and cut off power to save energy.
  • Adjust Your Settings: Most computers have built-in settings for energy savings. For example, you can set your computer to automatically go into lower power consumption mode after a certain amount of time. Avoid using a screensaver when your computer is not active. Instead, turn your computer to sleep mode if you are stepping away for a lunch or exercise break and turn your devices off completely if you will not be using them for an extended period.
  • Invest in Energy Efficient Equipment: If you are in the market for any home office devices, be sure to look for energy efficient products. There are also companies that sell used and refurbished equipment or offer trade-ins and recycling.
  • Conserve Water: There are many simple ways to conserve water in your home. Even a few small changes can add up to hundreds of gallons in water savings. A great place to start is the shower. Take a shorter shower and use a water-saving shower head. It’s also more efficient to only run the dishwasher when it’s full and conserve water outdoors by only watering plants or the lawn in the early morning.
  • Avoid Peak Rate Times: Log into your utility account and look for peak or “time of use” rates. Your utility rates can increase during those peak times, so choosing the right time of day to do a load of laundry could impact how much that spin cycle costs you at the end of the month. You can also set a programmable thermostat to keep the house warmer or cooler during peak periods.

During this unprecedented time, Itron remains committed to our company mission and purpose, while enabling cities, utilities and communities to better manage energy and water. We encourage those working remotely to use this time to introduce resourceful habits around the home. Together, we are creating a more resourceful world.


New Challenges and Opportunities Converge at TechAdvantage 2020

A huge thank you to all who took the time to connect with us at TechAdvantage this year. Over the past several weeks, we have all experienced new and unprecedented challenges facing the industry – but that means there is also unprecedented opportunity to help support electric cooperatives and other critical infrastructure providers in their important work. Here are a few of my takeaways from the event.

More Challenges – and Opportunities – than Ever Before
As the industry shifts and utility business models continue to evolve, electric cooperatives are being asked to do more than ever before. They are being faced with challenges such as aging distribution infrastructure, rising member expectations and the advent of new technologies—all while maintaining high service reliability and keeping rates low. Additionally, broader challenges such as the impacts of more frequent natural disasters is changing the relationships between utilities, technologies and communities. Amid these challenges, the opportunity to expand services for members is something that we see as exciting for the cooperative market.

Stepping Beyond Meter-to-Cash
Walking the show floor, I was struck by how different things looked and felt compared to a decade ago. The heavy transmission equipment, meters, aerial devices and pickup trucks were still there, but there was a noticeable shift in the types of solutions being represented. Technology companies showcased more software-driven solutions that focused less on basic data collection and more on what’s possible using the powerful capabilities of intelligently connected networks and data-driven insights. It was also exciting to see the growing cooperative interest in network-enabled solutions like Distributed Energy Management, electric vehicle service equipment (EVSE) and smart community applications such as area lighting control.

Delivering More
The ability to deliver more for members remains a driving force for all electric cooperatives. With challenges such as rising member demand and service expectations, there is a renewed focus on improving grid reliability, minimizing outages and improving restoration efforts. This brings to light the importance of building strong technology partnerships to improve safety, save money and expand services for communities. Every conversation we had with our customers provided greater insight into what electric cooperatives are hearing from their members, and how they’re taking steps to bring new value and services to life.

Although TechAdvantage 2020 has come to an end, we are still thinking about all that we learned – and how we can help make a positive impact on our customers. To continue the conversation or learn more, visit www.itron.com/muni-coop/.


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