On a scale of 1 to 5, electric cooperatives rate customer satisfaction a 4.7 in terms of importance when considering the deployment of smart grid technologies, according to the recently published Rural Electric Cooperative Smart Grid Benchmarking Report: Creating Value with Smart Grid Applications. NRTC and CFC co-authored the report, which offers facts and figures to help rural electric providers analyze smart grid technologies and decide deployment strategies based on the experiences of those that have already deployed them.
Participants in an introductory webinar going over the report’s highlights confirmed the importance of customer satisfaction. NRTC and CFC conducted an online poll, asking the audience of mostly co-op finance and accounting personnel, as well as CEOs and general managers, “Based on your cooperative’s mission, which of the [smart grid] value streams are most important?” The replies:
- Customer satisfaction – 68 percent.
- Operations and maintenance cost control – 16 percent.
- Outage management – 9 percent.
- Demand charge management – 6 percent.
The report includes sections covering the values smart grid technologies provide for rural electrics; the various smart grid applications; the technology and planning evaluation process, and project funding options. The webinar covered the highlights of these sections, but NRTC and CFC are planning future events to take a closer look.
“There will be a series of webinars in early 2022,” said Mark Schneider, CFC's VP, Industry Research and Consulting. “Those webinars will go deeper into specific applications and subject matter experts will be involved from CFC, NRTC and even NRECA.” The webinars also will include case studies of some rural co-ops’ past smart grid projects.
NRTC and CFC will announce the dates for the webinar series soon. In addition, a recording of the recent introductory webinar is available online for cooperatives with CFC user names and passwords. Contact experts at NRTC Smart Grid Solutions at firstname.lastname@example.org.