Small businesses are an often-overlooked segment of energy consumers when it comes to utility-directed efficiency programs.
It’s easy to understand why. Even though small businesses make up 99 percent of commercial activity in the United States, their median energy bills are often comparable to large residential consumers.
But there are opportunities to engage with certain small businesses on a range of services – from grid edge services like renewable integration or EV charging, to assistance with more efficient lighting or HVAC controls – so long as the utility takes time to understand the customer’s needs.
The Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative recently published a research report, Understanding Your SMB Customers, that suggests a segmentation strategy for outreach to small- and medium-size businesses.
While not all businesses are interested in energy management programs, Patty Durand, Executive Director of the SECC, thinks utilities should focus on becoming the energy expert for those that are.
“Customers are looking at their utilities in the way they look at their other service providers and finding those utilities wanting in outreach,” she said. Engaging small businesses and keeping them satisfied, on the other hand, may prevent them from turning to other energy options when given a choice.
This topic is discussed in greater detail in the summer issue of FutureReady (read more here).