Welcome our newest Gena-baby

Congratulations to Allie, Eric and their new baby girl, Mille.

One-sie!

One-sie!

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Today Genability Engineering made me immensely proud

We don’t like to blow our own trumpet at Genability too much. But on lucky days something happens that just stops in your tracks, and makes you feel immensely proud of the team you get to work with every day. Today was one of those days, and I’d like to share why with you.

On day two of our current sprint, John Tucker, our intrepid VP of Data & Operations threw our Engineering team a curve-ball. Scribd announced that they were shutting down their APIs. Without needlessly getting into too much back story, these APIs going away in less that 2 weeks represented a big deal. Fast forward to yesterday, day 11 of the very same sprint, and John’s teams’ platform was completely migrated off Scribd. In production. Without a hitch. Zero downtime. Needless to say John, myself and the entire company were very impressed. John said it best…

From : John Tucker
To : All Staff
Subject : Scribd Migration

Huge shout out to the Eng team on the Scribd Migration! For those who are unfamiliar, we discovered last Tuesday (5/2) that the Scribd was shutting down their API on 5/15. We were going to lose API access to all the utility documents we’ve collected over the past 6.5 years, the ability to view the documents in our data entry tool and the ability to display documents in Apps and Explore.

Yesterday (5/11)  Engineering completed the migration from Scribd to AWS.  This migration included exporting all of the documents from Scribd to AWS and changing all of our tools to use data from the new location. (task workflow, flex form, apps, Explore, and I’m sure many more parts of the code).  Most impressively, this transition was practically seamless for our customers, our freelancers and us here.

This was an enormously successful effort, so kudos to the team for getting it done!

John
Vice President, Data & Operations

The results Engineering achieved were impressive, as was the time they did it in. But for me even more impressive was how they did it:
  • No all-nighters. No working over the weekend.
    Our engineers are a dedicated bunch and always prepared to go above and beyond, but as a company we value what we call “make-life-work”. We have kids, commitments and a life outside the office.
  • Infrastructure, Process and Knowledge investments proven.
    By paying attention for years to the things that make the team flexible and agile; great testing and coverage, continuous integration, flexible build environments, automation, shared knowledge and much more; Engineering was able to adjust and move quickly with low risk and high effectiveness.
  • Collaboration. Design Driven. Without Drama.
    We value collaboration and a design driven approach. However, tight deadlines can make it tempting to abandon good practice. Engineering didn’t. They just ditched the drama and did what they do best. Keep talking, designing, implementing.
  • All while still achieving the goal of the sprint!
    We also had an important new feature in this sprint. While we quickly trimmed scope to just the core of what was needed, we didn’t have to trim any further. Crisis averted AND sprint shippable!

It is testimony to the great work Engineering did long before this curve-ball. Like a lot of smart people, including Vanilla Ice, the team knows it takes years of groundwork to look like an overnight success. And I couldn’t be more proud of them.

Please take a bow (in alphabetical order):

homer is excited

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The Latest Additions to the Genability Developer Network and our APIs

Over the last 6 months or so we have put quite a bit of work into improving the documentation on our Genability Developer Network (GDN) site. This reflects some of the improvements and additions to our suite of APIs, including better ways to calculate actual solar savings and to use our latest calculation endpoints. It also includes content improvements across the board, including our Tutorials (which help you understand major use cases), our How-To section (which dives into details on specific topics), and the API References (denoting all endpoints and their requests and responses).

Here’s a round-up of what we’ve been working on.

New Actual Savings Tutorial

Switch now includes the ability to calculate actual savings for homeowners with solar. Actual Savings can be an add-on to your estimated solar savings tools and can be integrated into self-service platforms, such as customer websites and mobile applications, or integrated into customer support tools. The Actual Savings Tutorial on our Genability Developer Network walks you through four steps to calculate actual savings using the homeowner’s electricity usage and solar production data. We calculate the savings using actual rates and you can display this information wherever you need.

Improvements to our How-To Section

We have added more topics to our How-To section. The topics include forecasting savings with storage, selecting the right utility and tariff for a customer, and incorporating taxes in a calculation.

Include Storage When Forecasting Savings

This How-To goes over how to quote Solar PV systems with behind-the-meter energy storage for our Switch customers. Including energy storage in your quotes involves additional steps to the current process of forecasting savings with solar. In this How-To, we show you how to align the charge and discharge schedule of the battery with the homeowner’s future electricity usage and estimated solar production data. We also discuss different processes you will take depending on whether the utility requires dual register meters post-solar.

Selecting the Right Utility and Tariff

It is important that the correct utility and tariff are used in cost calculations and savings analyses as costs can vary considerably between tariffs and utilities. This How-To explains how to select the correct utility and tariff for a given customer. It denotes the similarities and differences that are a result of whether you are using Accounts for Account Cost Calculations and Savings Analyses, or you are running On-Demand Cost Calculations.

Taxes

This How-To walks you through the various ways you can incorporate tax rates into our calculations. This includes how to pass in the tax rates in a request for our Signal API and how to set the tax rates on Accounts.

New Calculation Endpoints

We have built some next generation calculation endpoints which focus on accuracy and faster performance in order to facilitate our new Signal product and more powerful “what-if” calculations.

Account Cost Calculation

We have added the Account Cost Calculation endpoint as the latest addition to our Account API.

The Account Cost Calculation endpoint is useful for our Switch customers to calculate the forecasted savings and actual savings with solar. This endpoint calculates costs for a given amount of usage over a specified period of time. This can be used to calculate an electricity bill or to calculate a “what-if” scenario for solar.

Our Intelligent Baselining (IB) feature is available on our Account Cost Calculation endpoint. IB moves historical usage to a time in the future and estimates annual usage data from at least one month of usage. The IB feature in the Account Cost Calculation endpoint is useful to forecast savings.

Signal API

We have also added an On-demand Cost Calculation endpoint and an On-demand Mass Calculation endpoint as a part of Signal, our rate engine product. The On-demand Cost Calculation endpoint runs costs for a single case such as a historical bill, a month-to-date cost forecast, or a “what-if” scenario for solar. The On-demand Mass Calculation endpoint can run up to 20 scenarios at once for a given customer’s usage and rate inputs. This endpoint is ideal for tariff rate plan comparisons and optimizations.

Here are some new features with our On-demand endpoints:

  • You can add your own, custom time of use definition to the Genability database to use in a calculation
  • You can run a calculation with a single, specified version of a given tariff

Using Our Latest APIs

Visit our Genability Developer Network for more information on the Actual Savings Tutorial, How-Tos, Account Cost Calculation, and Signal API.

If you are interested in our Switch or Signal products, please reach out to sales@genability.com today!

Posted in API, Commercial and Industrial, Residential, Signal, Switch | Leave a comment

Switch, Solar and New Energy Round Up for 2017

It’s been awhile since we last blogged a roundup of what’s going on with Switch (April 2016 to be precise). A lot has happened with Switch and the solar and new energy market more generally since then. So let’s get right to it.

Solar Proposals are Growing

Last year, Genability calculated a whopping 3 million residential solar proposals! That is 170% growth from 2015. Since the release of Switch in 2014, we have calculated 6 million, and that is just through Q1 of this year – we have been busy! This is thanks in part to adding new customers (more on that below), but we are also seeing that our existing customers are presenting more proposals. Good news for rooftop solar.

Our APIs are Getting Faster

Extra API volumes mean that it’s even more important to tune our code and infrastructure for speed. We have continued to cut our API response times. Our performance has improved by 20% since last year with an average response time of just 302 milliseconds for a Savings Analysis call!

Highlights from Customers New and Old

We expanded our customer footprint in the residential solar market. Here’s some highlights.

DividendDividendFinance, a solar loan company bringing together homeowners, installers and investors to enable all members of the solar value chain benefit. Their new quote tool for solar loans integrated with Switch for the best rate accuracy and the largest coverage area. “Saving money is the #1 reason homeowners choose to go solar. Providing accurate estimates of the potential savings is crucial to our business. Dividend chose Genability over another provider of tariff rate data to support our customers with the most accurate savings forecasts on the market,” said Phil Meachin, VP of Strategy and Communications for Dividend Solar.

 

 

sunovaSunnova, the residential solar company from Houston,  also upgraded to Switch with their new dealer quote tool, releasing it to all of their residential dealers and installers in 2016. This version enhanced calculated solar avoided cost calculations and utility tariff rate data collection. “Genability has been a great partner to us. They are extremely responsive to questions and tickets and are always a step ahead of us in thinking about what features and functionality we might want next”, said Chris Hayden,” of Sunnova.

In addition to growing our existing relationships with customers Sunrun, SunPower, SolarCity, NRG, Spruce and others, Genability also partners with the industry’s best quote tool providers. Residential solar quote tool providers Sighten, SolarNexus and ModSolar all utilize Switch for their utility avoided cost calculations.

A Growing Focus on Customer Engagement

Many Solar companies are now focusing on profitability and long term stability rather than the rapid “land-grab” of past years. With that we are seeing a new focus on customer engagement campaigns with an emphasis on lowering operation and maintenance costs, creating referral programs, up selling and satisfying current customers. Genability customers like Sunrun, that have integrated with the latest version of Switch in their consumer web portal can show their customers their real savings after going solar. This actual savings information is tremendously valuable for sales, referrals and support inquires, and improves engagement programs and marketing campaigns.

New Requirements from Utilities for Solar Customers

Over the past year an increasing number of utilities are either requiring solar customers to switch their tariff after interconnection or impose additional fixed charges for solar customers. A year ago, only Salt River Project in Arizona required solar customers to switch tariffs post solar, but today 2 of the 3 California investor-owned utilities do (PG&E and SDG&E), most Hawaiian utilities (HECO, HELCO and MECO) as well as the Imperial and Modesto Irrigation Districts. Solar-specific fixed charges have spread from Arizona Public Service across the country to Santee Cooper in South Carolina, New Braunfels Utility in Texas, as well as two munis in Utah (St. George and Santa Clara). Genability has been tracking these cases and adjusting our data accordingly to ensure that all the applicable charges and requirements are handled automatically by Switch.

After SunEdison : A Silver Lining

We were saddened by the news of the SunEdison bankruptcy. Genability had worked closely with their Residential and Small Commercial teams to provide savings analyses. There bankruptcy was a big loss, and something of a black eye for the solar industry. However, it is not all bad news. A number parts of what was once SunEdison have been picked up and reimagined in a number of new homes. Out of the ashes Genability picked up three new Switch customers; Flextronics, Crius Solar and DataReef, all of whom are pushing solar forward.

Untitled-1

Mostly Sunny Future

It seems the industry consensus is that costs will continue go down, panel technology will continue to improve, storage will come online, coal plants will continue to close and new energy will become the only new energy source added to the grid. And it will be turbulent but inevitable, because it will be the the most cost effective solution to the world’s energy needs. How cost effective is what we are here to help you with.

We are committed to exceeding the needs of our customers. We want the price of energy to help drive your sales and customer satisfaction in innovative new products and technologies. So if you are New Energy Company interested in Switch, please contact us at sales@genability.com, we would love to hear from you.

For more information on configuring actual solar savings, please check out our developer site.

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Speaking about TOU Rates at the Smart Energy Summit

For the 5th consecutive year Genability attended the Smart Energy Summit conference in Austin, TX. And it’s not just the BBQ that keeps bringing us back! SES focuses on home energy management, consumer technology, IOT and utilities.

We were thrilled to be asked to present at this year’s conference. Genability’s Eric Danziger sat on a panel during Tuesday’s conference titled “Consumer Behaviors and Variable Rate Plans: Challenges and Opportunities”. The panel group addressed new rate plans such as “free nights and weekends” and TOU adoption. The session examined the adoption of variable pricing plans, demand charges, their implementation, and the opportunities they create for all solution providers.

The panel included great folks from some really interesting companies:

ROC-Connect / Kevin Meagher
www.roc-connect.com
ROC provides a “Smart Home as a Service” product and is focusing on the home IoT platform. The company is hardware and device agnostic and aiming to connect all of the devices in the home to one central platform.

Griddy Energy / Gregory Craig
www.gogriddy.com
Griddy is launching as a new retail energy provider (REP) in the Texas market. The “Uber of Electricity”, they are purchasing power directly from ERCOT and selling power at a flat rate of $0.49 per day! Griddy will also provide customers with “surge pricing” alerts. The company officially launches their new product in April. If you live in Texas, you’ll like their spoof: www.powertoconfuse.org

Stem / Matt Owens
www.stem.com
A leader in commercial energy storage and also a Genability customer, Stem provides energy storage systems to the commercial and industrial market, as well as utilities. They are currently operating in California, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Hawaii and focus on financing, monitoring and customer acquisition.

Thanks again to Parks Associates for another great conference! We look forward to attending again next year and seeing where TOU rates are then!

 

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California’s Commitment to Clean Energy

If you believe that we should convert our electricity to renewable sources, the Golden State has a new bill that we recommend you consider supporting, sb-584. This legislation introduced last week would have California to get 100% its electricity from solar, wind and renewable sources by 2045.

If you would like to support this initiative, you can start by calling your CA State Representatives. You can find their contact info here. It took me just a few minutes this morning to call mine – Scott Weiner and Phil Ting, at their Sacramento offices.

And if you would like to do more and have fun while doing so, you can head to Equinox next month on March 24, 2017 and support Vote Solar. They are an organization that works everyday with state and local legislators to promote clean renewable energy policy.

 

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Genability at DistribuTech 2017

Screen Shot 2017-02-22 at 5.05.57 PMDistribuTech, the annual exhibition and conference for all things electric power transmission and distribution was held in San Diego earlier this month. Genability attended for the 1st time this year after the launch of our newest product Signal. Signal was designed for utilities and is the fastest, most accurate utility rate-engine in the market.

We headed to the conference to talk products, catch up customers and check out all the new technology. The theme for this year’s event was “Decentralization, Decarbonization and Digitization” and we are excited to see the new industry focus on commercial energy management and see the various use-cases and applications for our products across traditional Distributed Generation companies and utilities.

We met in person with our customers and exhibitors:

Opower Oracle. This was the 1st conference for Opower and Oracle post the Oracle acquisition. Opower’s booth included their traditional digital engagement services, coupled with Oracle’s reach and customer support applications.
Bidgely. A long time customer, it was great to see some of Bidgely’s applications in action. With a focus on mobile digital engagement, Bidgely partners with utilities to provide residential customers with rate switching opportunities, savings presentment and bill payment.
Stem. Stem sells commercial storage applications direct to utilities, as well as direct to commercial customers. They highlighted both applications at the event, including the geographical expansion outside of California.
Ecova & Green Charge Networks. Both part of the Engie family, Ecova and GCN had a single booth to present the shared commercial application of Commercial storage and commercial utility bill management.
Shell Energy. With its recent release of Shell New Energies, Shell is exploring deeper ways to enage with end customers. In addition to partnering with Genability, Shell also engaged with AMS to sell storage direct to C&I customers.

You can check out some of their fantastic booths in a photo album here:

We’re excited about what lies ahead in the utility market. Genability’s first products, Switch and Conduct were developed directly for solar and storage companies. Now with the addition of Signal and convergence of the utility space with Distributed Generation Resources, Genability is perfectly positioned to help the New Energy Companies and Utilities. We have been waiting for the convergence of these industries for some time and excited to see it coming to life!

Thanks for a great conference and we look forward to seeing everyone again at DistribuTech next year!

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Florida We’ve Got You Covered

image01

Amendment 1, a proposed Florida State constitutional amendment, was widely publicized as a pro-solar referendum. It was found though, to be legislation that would have made residential roof top solar unviable in Florida. Utilities and others spent $29 million to promote the amendment which would have paved the way to remove net metering and added differential fees to solar customers. It’s defeat by voters last month, means new solar customers in Florida (the country’s third in potential sun energy generation from rooftop solar) can still benefit financially from all that beautiful sunshine.

With that in mind, we put together a heat map of the Avoided Cost of Power (ACP) for residential customers in Florida so you can see where you and your customers can save.


image00
image02

As you can see above, the best ACPs are to be found in the college town of Gainesville.  Gainesville Regional Utilities, leads the state with an ACP of $0.13/kWh. The next brightest spot is in the state’s panhandle area from Gulf Power and Light ($0.114/kWh).  

The lowest ACP in Florida is for its largest utility, Florida Power & Light.  At $0.085/kWh, FP&L is half a cent less than the next closest utility.  Also rounding out the bottom of the list are smaller coops and Munis like Withlacoochee River Electric Coop ($0.091/kWh) and Kissimmee Utility Authority ($0.091/kWh).

Genability Switch has every electricity tariff, everywhere in Florida. Contact us and we will help you start generating accurate savings forecasts in Florida and through out the country.

 

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Bah Humbug to Holiday Lighting Bills

It’s holiday season! That means homes in communities across the America are decorated with colorful displays of cheer. The bright lights and robotic Santas come at a cost though, many homeowners will experience unexpected increases in their November and December electricity bills, some by more than 50%.

Christmas light display

Most people opt for manageable outdoor setups with lights around their lawn, around trees, and along rooflines. There are however some homes and neighborhoods renown for highly elaborate displays which may include thousands of lights, robotics, music and more. ABC airs an annual competition where families and neighborhoods compete with each other for the coveted Light Fight crown, awarded to houses with the most outrageous decorations. Winners from last year’s competition had anywhere from 80,000 to 1,000,000 lights (of various types) per home. While the decorations alone for these setups can cost upwards of $10,000 and are often professionally installed, a relatively undocumented cost is the electricity required to power the show.

One emerging trend in holiday lighting is the use of LED lights to improve lifetime costs for those who plan on lighting up their homes every year. LED holiday lights are rapidly growing in popularity compared to their incandescent counterparts as they become more cost competitive. LED lights, while still higher in upfront cost, last more than 5 times longer than conventional bulbs and use a fraction of the electricity. There are several great resources highlighting the benefits of LED lighting including a recent blog post from our friends at Sunrun and an online guide from PG&E.

Homeowners may experience some level of bill shock depending on how many lights they install, their location/electricity tariff, and their choice of lighting technology. We’ve quantified electricity cost increases associated with typical and highly elaborate (think Clark Griswold)  holiday light setups in locations where past Light Fight crown winners were located such as Brooklyn, Salt Lake City, and Livermore. The added costs below assume 2,500 lights for the standard condition, and 50,000 lights for the Griswolds condition, with a mix of larger and smaller lights for each case.

christmas_led_dt_01

As shown in the table, electricity costs can skyrocket, particularly for homeowners opting for more elaborate setups. LED lights significantly mitigate these cost increases, and require 4X – 5X fewer bulb replacements. Choice of technology ultimately depends on how many lights you plan on installing. It may not be financially advantageous for all homeowners to use LEDs, although the large majority of people will benefit.

The team at Genability wishes you a very Happy Holidays and lower electricity bills in the year to come!

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A Record-Breaking Summer in ERCOT

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), which manages 90% of the electricity market in Texas, recently wrapped up its summer season. Reminiscent of record grid loads in August 2015, the ISO saw some dramatic moments this June through September:

First, four new peak load records were set starting August 8th, when ERCOT experienced demands above 70,000 MW, maxing out at 70,572 MW on August 10. Mid-September also saw a strained grid. At one point demand surpassed projections and reached within 3% of all available capacity. This comes dangerously close to triggering supply issues that could lead to major throttling of supply or even blackouts.

How were customers affected?

As the ISO overseeing Texas’ massive deregulated energy market, ERCOT’s major responsibility is to manage an economic system that incentivizes consumers to reduce and/or move load when the grid experiences a tightening of the gap between supply and demand. One way in which the market incentivizes a balance between supply and demand is through a real-time energy market, in which prices for wholesale electricity are determined by ERCOT at 15-minute intervals for different locations on the grid.

With higher summer demand, August and September saw increased real-time rates (as expected). For example, the Houston load zone experienced a median rate of $21.13/MWh this summer, but saw rates as high as $906.26/MWh in August. We see this and similar rate spikes in the following plot:

 

houston_rates_plot

 

How do these spikes fit into the bigger picture?

We can look to rates in previous summers for answers. As shown in the following plot, median summer rates for the Houston, North, and South load zones in summer 2016 were on par with, or lower than previous years.

 

median_lz_rate_years

 

Similarly, peak real-time rates for 2016 are roughly on par with previous years, and are particularly similar to peak rates in summer 2015:

 

peak_lz_rate_years

 

However, the frequency with which these zones see higher real-time rates in the summer appears to be increasing. 2015 had more occurrences of rates above $100.00/MWh than 2012, 2013, or 2014. Summer 2016 saw rates above $100.00/MWh in nearly 70% more summer intervals than in 2015, and nearly 250% more summer intervals than 2012, 2013, and 2014 on average.

 

above100_freq_years

 

Where do we go from here?

Thanks in part to unusually high fall temperatures in parts of Texas, buyers of wholesale electricity are still exposed to high rates. In October alone, the Houston, North, and South load zones saw real-time rates above $100.00/MWh in 25, 24, and 48 intervals, respectively.

Genability’s comprehensive suite of products enables customers to mitigate the effects of high peak time rates by modeling cost impacts of moving load or installation of distributed energy resources. For more information please contact us at sales@genability.com.

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