Engage to increase energy literacy

April 23, 2015

Picture of buddhist monks standing by solar panels.

I have recently heard several people talk about how we must increase the energy literacy of Canadians.

It got me thinking about what’s in a name?

The name of the body overseeing Guelph’s municipally-owned electric utility up until the restructuring of the industry in 1998 sort of says it all – The Board of Light and Heat Commissioners.  Their first meeting was in 1907 and the services they provided to their customers were light and heat.

A new distribution company, Guelph Hydro Electric Systems Inc, was established in 2000 to deliver electricity as a commodity to its customers. Perhaps the service most valued by the community lately has been their competent and rapid response to extreme weather events.

People may not be interested in energy policy but they are interested in energy services and – today – new energy services are driving customers away from traditional utilities – some consumers are becoming highly educated on their energy options.

Utilities should be working hard to keep the customers they have by embracing the changes going on around them; they cannot afford to simply deliver electricity as a commodity.  Utilities enjoy a high degree of trust. With a whole host of new energy services emerging on the market, there is a great opportunity to engage customers in new ways – beyond power outages and a monthly bill – while supporting energy literacy at the same time.

That means today’s single-service energy providers must become multi-service energy providers offering a constantly evolving portfolio of offerings structured to meet customer needs.

Image credit: Ashoka’s Changemakers.com.