Monday, November 13, 2023
10:30 AM - 12:00 PM
How Do Small and Medium Businesses Understand and Respond to TOU Rates?
Session ID
A1 - Lightning: Snapshots of Program Design and Implementation in Diverse Contexts
Behavior - based Programs
Sea Rotmann

Regulators and utilities are increasingly looking to advanced rates, such as time-of-use (TOU) rates that vary by time of day, to both improve grid reliability and curtail emissions. To effectively implement these rates, utilities need to (1) sell customers on the advantage of TOU so they enroll in these rates and (2) help customers successfully manage these rates so that they and the grid benefit. TOU rates are already offered to many commercial and industrial customers and efforts are underway to roll out TOU to residential customers, but TOU rate deployment to small and medium businesses (SMBs) is still in its early stages. Achieving effective TOU rate adoption in the SMB customer segment will be challenging, not only because of the wide range of energy needs and end uses across this customer group, but also because utilities have historically struggled to engage and adequately support them. In this presentation, we detail findings from qualitative interviews with 20 individuals from SMBs across the United States about their awareness, understanding, and attitudes towards TOU rates. We find that while SMB awareness of TOU rates is low, these customers are highly interested in TOU and their potential to save money. Additionally, we complement these insights with follow up user experience (UX) interviews from a subsample of participants to understand how utilities can engage SMB owners with TOU rates in a way that establishes trust, builds understanding, and motivates participation. Overall, our research indicates that personalized outreach to SMBs that emphasizes the savings potential of TOU to their business and targeted insights how their business can achieve these savings is highly persuasive for SMB customers - and that it needs to include an energy / rates education component.

Supporting Document 1