Oklahoma Electric Cooperative Puts Members in Control of their Energy Use

December 11, 2018 | Blog

Building Stronger Relationships, Communicating Rates, Awareness of Programs and Services

Problem:

Since the onset of mandatory TOU rates in 2013, Oklahoma Electric Cooperative realized it was crucial to help members better understand their bills. Autumn McMahon, manager of marketing and member services, was instrumental in launching OEC’s member education campaign, which included blog posts, energy audits, social media outreach, and energy saving tips on the website but, this was only the beginning, OEC members needed a relevant and timely communications channel. McMahon found it difficult to compete with budget and technical resources available to the neighboring IOU.

In addition, the solution needed to integrate with their NISC billing system to deliver accurate energy use and billing data. Finding a turn-key solution that could seamlessly integrate with OEC’s billing system proved to be more challenging than expected.

Ms. McMahon, with impending rate increases top of mind, knows it is essential for OEC to build strong member relationships, reduce calls, and educate OEC members on ways to save energy. OEC’s mission statement reads, “At OEC our purpose is to improve members’ quality of life through the safe delivery of highly reliable, reasonably priced electric service, innovative energy programs and exceptional member service.” Autumn McMahon and her team were and still are determined to deliver on this promise.

Solution:

Oklahoma Electric Cooperative did considerable research on software providers before deciding on Apogee’s mid-cycle bill alerts solution and the home energy audit calculator. Apogee’s team is well versed in most all utility billing systems and only serve the energy industry.

OEC decided on a soft launch for the program pilot, they were cautious only sending about 1400 emails in January of 2018. The program gained momentum over the summer and by September OEC had sent 153,805 mid-cycle alerts.

The mid-cycle email alert is full of useful proactive information sent mid-way through the billing cycle. Each email alert contains:

  • The current bill estimate and a predictive estimate of the energy bill based on past energy use and the weather.
  • Links to content designed to educate the members on their energy use.
  • A call to action to drive participation and awareness in a program, or event.
  • Links to social media.
  • Links to the home energy audit calculator designed to educate and collect home profile data to further personalize member communications.
  • Link to a survey to allow feedback.

Results:

The survey revealed that 92% of OEC’s members wanted to continue to receive the email alerts. 94% of members surveyed said the alerts were very or somewhat useful. Email open rates were well above expected averaging 42%.

The emails are sent on an opt-out basis meaning sent to all email addresses with the option to unsubscribe. Surprisingly some of the members that inadvertently opted-out of the emails chose to opt back into the program when they missed their mid-cycle bill alert.

During the program the home energy audit calculator was used to make 11,470 calculations increasing the number of home profiles substantially. OEC is using the data collected in the home profile combined with AMI data to personalize and target members for programs and rebate offers.

Autumn McMahon said, “The best part of this program is my team doesn’t have to do the leg work, all it takes is a 30-minute call once a month.” OEC has provided their members with a valuable resource offering energy education and is building awareness of all their cooperative has to offer. Putting the member in control of their energy use is building stronger relationships with members and starting meaningful conversations
with their cooperative about energy use.

“These messages are thoughtfully helpful during peak periods of usage and can help us prepare (plan to save ahead) for high peak periods if necessary! And THANK YOU for considering our situations and ideas. If it helps ANY of us…It will help ALL of us!!”
~OEC Member

McMahon and her team plan to continue to send the alerts and the home energy audit calculator to their members. Their goal is to drive participation in paperless billing, build awareness around capitol credits, rebates and to continue improve members’ quality of life.

OEC Home Energy
Audit Calculator

Contact: Karen Morris, 678-684-6801 or kmorris@apogee.net

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