Sense Blog

How Sense Can Help Co-ops and Their Members

In 2019, we at Sense noticed that a number of co-op teams from various parts of the country were purchasing Sense devices to help their members with high bill complaints and overall energy usage. The economic fallout from COVID-19 has put even more pressure on rural coops as their members struggle to pay bills, and as heat waves spread across the country, utilities are challenged with managing peak usage during hot summer months.

As a member of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA), Sense is committed to RECs and their members. At the TechAdvantage conference in March, we had the opportunity to talk with the staff at co-ops and learn how they’ve been using Sense to help their members and reduce costs across their organizations. We’ve partnered with a number of co-ops to offer discounts to their members and employees.

In addition to helping co-op members with energy usage, the high-resolution data that Sense collects can help utilities address grid management activities such as managing voltage and DER loads such as EVs and solar. Sense data can be turned into actionable information for co-op leaders in member services, engineering, and operations.

Using Sense to Address High Bill Complaints

Some of our partner co-ops have been purchasing a few Sense energy monitors to keep in their office in order to resolve high bill complaints. The Sense energy monitor is installed quickly, usually in just a half hour, and immediately captures the energy usage in the home, along with the activities of individual devices.

Co-operatives will typically install the Sense monitor, and let the member look at their energy usage in the Sense app for a couple months. Members see in real-time, right down to the second, and not just in kWh, their energy usage represented in dollars and cents based on their rate plan. In the intuitive Sense app, the resident can see exactly how much money that old refrigerator in the garage is costing them (and how much beer they could buy with the money!) The Sense app shows a detailed, realistic view into energy usage while it’s happening and historically, which makes complaint resolution more straightforward.

Collaborating remotely, customer service representatives can look at the Sense data with their members to identify opportunities for meaningful savings and connect them with other programs for energy efficiency, such as HVAC upgrades, appliance rebates, lightbulb replacements, insulation, home services, and more.

Once the Sense monitor and app have helped to clarify what’s contributing to the member’s high bills, the monitor can be removed and shared with another member. Alternatively, it can be left in the home and the utility can recover its cost through a small monthly payment included in the member’s bill.

The savings can be significant for coop members. Sense customers from all across the US and Canada have submitted their own stories of how Sense saved them money and prevented some homeowner headaches. They’ve saved money by identifying expensive water heaters, a bad furnace relay, a space heater that was costing $35 per month, and a well pump with a stuck pressure switch.

Are you a co-op interested in trying out a few monitors for high bill complaints? You can purchase up to 15 monitors at $40 off through our special program just for co-ops. We can also extend that $40 discount to all your members through our website, and even match rebate programs you offer. Contact us to learn more about these programs for co-ops and their members.

Why high-resolution data matters in the modern grid

In addition to the capabilities available to homeowners, Sense is a powerful tool to support grid analytics and optimization. The Sense monitor samples current and voltage at 1 MHz so it can apply our proprietary advanced machine learning algorithms to identify energy signatures of individual devices, and even problems with those devices. With metrology like this deployed at the grid edge, your engineering teams can get access to historical voltage data that offers important insights for conservation voltage reduction and waveform-level reviews of any voltage anomalies that occur in the field. AMI interval data, even at single-second resolution, can still miss information that’s critical to diagnosing issues and optimizing grid performance, where waveform data can be uniquely valuable.

Sense has partnered with two global energy companies, Schneider Electric and Landis+Gyr, both of whom have also invested in the company. Through these partnerships, Sense’s patented energy monitoring technology will be built into the new Revelo smart meter platform from Landis+Gyr, bringing high-resolution data to co-ops’ smart meter deployments. Through our strong partnership with Schneider Electric, Sense will integrate directly into the electrical panels of the near future for solutions that connect to control, demand response, DERMS, and more.

Rural cooperatives are among the most innovative utilities in the country. Like you, we are constantly finding ways to make the grid more resilient and efficient while supporting the needs of your co-op members and your business. To learn more about our programs, please get in touch!