National Grid Solar Program: SolarWise Utility Case Study
The utility customer solar program helps National Grid customers combine energy efficiency and solar energy.
National Grid designed the SolarWise program to encourage customers interested in energy efficiency to explore their home’s solar potential. After a national search, they selected EnergySage as the solutions provider for the SolarWise program. The program utilizes the EnergySage Solar Marketplace and custom educational content to provide an ideal way for homeowners to go solar with National Grid’s attractive performance-based incentive (PBI).
National Grid's objectives for the SolarWise program were clear:
- Integration – integrate with existing energy efficiency programming
- Personalization – provide each customer with a customized solar estimate for their property, based on account history
- Transparency – present customers with standardized quotes, including utility-approved assumptions, from select qualified local solar installation companies
- Information – educate customers about solar and National Grid’s unique PBI incentive
- Branding – reinforce the utility's brand and customer relationship
- Value add – generate revenue for National Grid and achieve a MW target
- Advocacy – aid in consumer protection by providing objective information and support
EnergySage collaborated with National Grid to develop the technical and educational components necessary in order to meet program objectives.
“EnergySage is solar shopping wraped in a warm security blanket.”
Utility of the Future
SolarWise leverages several of EnergySage's core capabilities. Here's what EnergySage delivered for this custom program:
- Program website that hosts all SolarWise program information and tools
- Customized rooftop Solar Marketplace including select local installation companies
- Property-specific Solar Calculator yielding solar assessments for each property based on customer data including property address and account usage history
- Custom content development and topical expertise - because of the unique nature of National Grid's PBI structure, EnergySage developed interactive content to explain the incentive
- Marketing strategy, messaging and design with utility branding across program website and program materials
- Process integration with energy efficiency audit vendor
SolarWise Campaign and Program Detail
National Grid’s solutions were delivered in early 2016. The services provided by EnergySage included customization of the Solar Marketplace, integration of customer account data into the solar calculator, the development of tailored marketing collateral that customers received during their home energy audits, and training of energy auditors on the Solar Marketplace. Auditors were trained to inform customers about the solar program and handed out brochures that prompt them to visit a custom, utility-branded website. That program site includes rich information on the incentive structure and the value to customers, including an interactive savings estimator and an instant solar assessment for each customer. The incentive also required solar system sizing to offset no more than the adjusted annual load after taking into account these EE actions.
Customers with interest in moving forward are invited to create an account on the Marketplace to begin receiving solar quotes. The Solar Marketplace includes more than a dozen pre-screened, local solar companies, giving customers choice and significant transparency in comparing the quotes from these companies. EnergySage Solar Advisors (customer-support solar experts available to customers via phone, email and chat) were trained on the specifics of the new solar incentive structure as well as the requirements around max system sizes and effectively engaging customers to answer questions unique to this program, in additional to traditional solar questions.
Customer Education Materials
EnergySage created a variety of customized marketing materials for National Grid to use in direct outreach to their customers. These materials, including brochures and emails, served to inform homeowners of their solar potential, illustrate potential savings from solar, explain solar incentives, and outline the process of going solar with National Grid. All custom marketing content is created in-house by EnergySage’s design team.
SolarWise Program Results
During the first nine months of offering this solution, nearly 30% of customers receiving online quotes moved forward with a solar contract, demonstrating the confidence that a Solar Marketplace brings to consumers. Customers received highly attractive solar pricing due to the competitive nature of the platform, but also included a range of options allowing them to find a solution that best met their needs. The solar contracts to date have been evenly spread across actively participating solar companies.
Use of the EnergySage Marketplace is expected to continue into the next fiscal year, and discussions are also in place to extend the solution in other states.
EnergySage runs the largest, and only truly vendor-neutral, online solar marketplace. Developed in 2012 with funding from the US Department of Energy, EnergySage is dedicated to information, transparency and choice. Our suite of online tools and resources help consumers research and shop for solar.
Our rooftop solar marketplace presents property owners with multiple solar quotes from pre-screened installers in a unique apples-to-apples format, and provides live support from expert Solar Advisors. The Community Solar Marketplace provides community solar FAQs and connects customers with projects in their area.
In addition to making these tools publicly available, EnergySage works with a range of organizations – from utilities like National Grid to state agencies like The Connecticut Green Bank – to aid their audience in getting started with solar.
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