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Is Solar Power Right For Me? Utilities Offer Advice With “WattPlan” App

Originally published on Solar Love.

Allowing customers to learn about and explore solar power options at their convenience, a new online application helps utility customers learn the answer to many solar power-related questions, including, “Is solar power right for me?”

Newly launched by Clean Power Research, the new “WattPlan” online application engages users with highly personalized answers about solar power and other energy technologies.

Is Solar Power Right For Me? "WattPlan" Utilities App Offers Answers

Customer Education about Solar Power, When & Where it is Wanted

Giving homeowners and small businesses a comprehensive energy and financial analysis of solar power and other energy technologies, the WattPlan app incorporates customer-specific information such as “interval data from smart meters, available sunlight and incentives, electric rate structure and rooftop characteristics.”

A scalable and cost-effective tool providing customer-tailored answers, WattPlan is designed to offer customer education when and where customers want it. Setting a new standard for “user-facing” online energy calculators, WattPlan builds on energy valuation solutions that have been in development and use for over 17 years. Recent innovations include the ability to use rate optimization, as well as interval data from smart meters.

Award-Winning Solar Power Prediction

An award-winning innovator, Clean Power Research is delivering software products that enable customers to optimize financing, operation, and integration of solar power resources. The software facilitates engagement with consumers through the use of personalized energy evaluations, and streamlined business processes.

Established in 1998, Clean Power Research has offices in Napa, California, and Kirkland, Washington. Utilities, government agencies, engineers, developers, manufacturers, installers, and financiers all rely on Clean Power Research for solar prediction, energy valuation, and program optimization solutions to optimize solar power for their businesses.

Funded by a US Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot Incubator award, the Clean Power WattPlan application software summarizes the results of each detailed analysis into understandable charts and tables, providing only the most meaningful results, such as:

•         Energy and bill savings by month

•         Optimal electric rate plan and system size

•         Available tax credits and rebates

•         Side-by-side comparisons of financing options (e.g., cash, loan or lease)

•         Maps highlighting existing solar power installations in the local community

Variables such as system size, finance rates, or installed solar power cost-per-watt can easily be modified by the customer to see the bottom-line impacts and make informed decisions.

Effectively Expanding Customer Outreach

Clean Power Research Software Services President Jeff Ressler noted in a recent statement that “research has shown that utilities that successfully engage their customers about energy alternatives have higher levels of customer satisfaction.” Ressler added, “WattPlan offers a scalable option to traditional methods of customer outreach, enabling utilities to engage customers online with a powerful and flexible platform that supports solar and new technologies.”

Utility companies adopting the new app are reporting an increase of cost-effective customer engagement about solar power options with WattPlan’s easy-to-use interactive, online experience. Among the early adopters of WattPlan are the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and Avista Utilities.

SMUD: “Sustainable Solutions For a Healthier Environment”

SMUD Strategy Planner Patrick McCoy said, “We want to be our customers’ trusted energy advisor.” He continued, “Providing solutions directly from our website makes it easier for them to explore their options, understand the costs and make informed decisions.”

Providing low-cost, reliable electricity for more than 65 years to Sacramento County and small adjoining portions of Placer and Yolo Counties, SMUD is the sixth-largest community-owned electric service provider in the United States. A recognized industry leader, SMUD is an industry award winner for its innovative energy efficiency programs, renewable power technologies, and for its sustainable solutions for a healthier environment. SMUD is the first large California utility to receive more than 20 percent of its energy from renewable resources.

Getting Ahead of the Solar Power Learning Curve

Avista solar initiatives manager Kelly Magalsky explained Avista’s motivation for early adoption of WattPlan. “Our customers are becoming increasingly interested in rooftop solar,” said Magalsky, “and Avista wants to be ready to support their needs and prepare for the future.” Magalsky continued, “The WattPlan solar estimator is an affordable way for us to get ahead of the curve and start providing personalized solar information to our customers through an engaging self-service web tool.”

Avista Corp. is an energy company involved in the production, transmission and distribution of energy as well as other energy-related businesses, traded under the ticker symbol “AVA.” The operation division, Avista Utilities, provides electric service to 370,000 customers and natural gas to 330,000 customers. Its service territory covers a population of over 1.6 million people, spread over 30,000 square miles in eastern Washington, northern Idaho, and parts of southern and eastern Oregon.

Alaska Energy and Resources Company is an Avista subsidiary that provides retail electric service in the city and borough of Juneau, Alaska, through its subsidiary Alaska Electric Light and Power Company.

The Future of WattPlan: Going Beyond Solar Power

Initially launched for solar estimation, WattPlan software designers report that the application “will soon support additional energy technologies, such as evaluating the economics of electric vehicles with and without rooftop solar.” Additional features will make it possible to “model the combined energy and economic effects of various energy efficiency measures, demand reduction and load shifting technologies.”

Clean Power Research Software Services President Jeff Ressler noted, “The engineering tools available today typically don’t account for the specific usage of a home or business, let alone support a consumer engagement with a phased approach to energy investment analysis.” He added, “WattPlan resonates with utilities because of its approachability, modularity and deep personalization.”

wattplan Infographic

Picture Credit: all images © Clean Power Research

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is a freelance lifestyle and environmental science writer currently living in Vancouver, BC. Her interests include environmental conservation, climate science, renewable energy, faith-based environmental activism, green building, creative lifestyles, and healthy living.


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