Welcome to the era of energy abstraction

There’s a lot of talk in the energy sector about a new era of customer choice. Finally, companies can offer not just different kinds of energy, but new tools that make managing it easy. These new offerings are exciting, but they all rest on a common assumption: that customers want to think about their energy consumption habits at all.

Engaging customers who are actively interested is challenging enough; capturing market share from customers who just don’t care may be impossible. To win, companies will need to think in terms of abstraction rather than control; customers will engage with offerings that allow them to manage spend without having to manage price or vendor—to save money without needing to understand how those savings took place. Amazon’s Alexa, for example, may offer suggestions for saving money that just happen to involve your electric bill. Indeed, as technology giants seek to “own the home,” I can see a time where the companies driving consumer energy choice are not sellers of electricity—they simply want the usage and provider data.

Using the principle of abstraction for business advantage means thinking about customer empowerment in a different way. How can you build customer relationships when there will be more intermediaries between the customer and supplier? What are the offerings that keep you connected to your customer rather than make you an anonymous commodity provider?

After Equifax’s mismanagement of customer data, we saw an example of disruption through abstraction. An inventor launched a bot that sues Equifax for you; one webpage is all it takes. The company that launched the bot is not in the business of legal advocacy, yet their model will have an impact on law firms as well as the number of claimants against Equifax.

What’s the energy equivalent? Let’s discuss the concept of “energy abstraction” below. I have several more opinions to share on this topic and I expect that you and your peers do as well.


Ed Cuoco
Vice President, Market and Policy Development
DNV GL Energy

Edward Cuoco, Vice President of DNV GL Energy’s Market and Policy Development services in North America, oversees delivery of energy advisory services to ISOs/RTOs, utilities and independent power producers (IPPs), wholesale and retail energy professionals and other stakeholders. His expertise combines data science, change and risk management, as well as energy wholesale and retail markets experience. Ed’s dedicated team of energy professionals provide strategic advisory services to energy stakeholders across the Americas who face a changing landscape marked by increasingly complex business challenges. Contact Ed Cuoco.

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