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:




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.




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




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.




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.

Posted in API, Commercial and Industrial, Consumers, Info, News, Signal | Comments closed

Engineering Offsite in Sonoma

Last week the Engineering team headed out of the office to Sonoma for a team offsite. Their destination was the Kendall-Jackson Wine Garden and Estate, owned by Jackson Family Wines (JFW), to take stock of this year’s accomplishments, make plans for the rest of the year and of course eat amazing food and drink lovely wine in beautiful California Wine Country.


Tasting in the Vineyard

We also had another reason to pick Jackson Family Wines for our offsite – they are leading the way in agricultural sustainability. Over the last five years JFW has heavily invested in renewable energy. And for us, we were particularly interested in seeing their solar and battery storage systems – a whopping 6.5 megawatts of solar and 8.4 megawatt hours of storage capacity from Tesla batteries.

Jackson Family Wines was one of the first pilot installations of Tesla’s Power Pack, their commercial battery storage system. Tesla uses Genability’s rate engine, the world’s best and the only accurate rate engine, to calculate JFW’s battery systems’ actual savings.

And it’s no small amount according to Forbes “Across the Jackson family wineries, solar panels and Tesla batteries are expected to lower the company’s electricity bill by nearly 40% in 2016, which is a savings of about $2 million.” So after many monthly cycles of aggregating and analyzing their meter data feeds, calculating their actual bills and savings through our rate engine and reporting it, we wanted to see these batteries in person.


Members of team Genability checking out the the Tesla batteries up close

The Team had a great time (check out a full album of photos from the day here) tasting wine, walking in the vineyards and beautiful kitchen gardens, and touring the harvesting and production facilities.

genabiltyengineeringoffisite2016img_0963Team Genability walking in the kitchen gardens

Thank you to Jackson Family Wines for a fantastic offsite. We have recharged our batteries and are back in the office working hard with renewed energy toward our goal of enabling Clean Abundant Energy for Everyone.


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Signal: Why It’s the Best Rate Engine


Many companies, including some utilities, have attempted to build utility rate engines. While most have ultimately failed or abandoned development due to the complex challenges involved, others cut scope and developed solutions for narrow use-cases. Signal is the first and only rate engine that provides revenue grade accuracy, comes out of the box with full coverage in North America and select international markets and includes what-if and distributed energy (DER) features. This makes Signal both a rate engine and a recommendation engine.

Earlier this year, Oracle Opower evaluated different rate engine solutions to plug into their next generation of digital engagement products. After careful consideration of all available solutions, including building a rate engine in-house, they selected Genability Signal. Together, we will deliver rate analysis, rate education reports, what-if analysis, and many new insights to millions of residential and commercial customers.

What makes a great rate engine?

Rate engines are no longer just about batch billing. They must be configurable on the fly, scale quickly, provide multiple calculations in an instant, and offer a suite of new features that support the distributed energy landscape. A rate engine should enable web or mobile digital engagement, batch reports, and offer insights useful for customer service. Customers want to understand the cost impacts of modifying their energy usage whether through purchase of products and services or simple changes in when they operate appliances. Whether it’s forecasting cost impacts of usage changes, evaluating costs across multiple tariff plans, or modeling new energy products like solar or EVs, the rate engine sits at the heart of the customer experience.

We’ve built Signal with all of this top of mind, specifically focusing on four core areas; Flexibility, Accuracy, Scalability, and Performance.


Genability has modeled every tariff we have seen whether residential, commercial, industrial or agricultural. Our data covers over 95% of the United States and select international markets, more than 1,200 load serving entities and nearly 15,000 tariffs complete with riders and electives. The diversity of tariffs we currently model includes time variant rates, demand charges, indexed rates, and numerous other configurations. When a utility proposes a new tariff, we likely have a similar tariff structure in production elsewhere. No need to invent anything.

For over five years we’ve provided cost and savings information to New Energy companies. Our customers include leaders in residential and commercial solar, energy storage, EV charging, energy efficiency and smart appliances. We bring that expertise and functionality to Signal so that your customers can instantly model cost and savings impacts of distributed energy purchases. Signal is versatile. It generates accurate calculations with the data you have; AMI data, monthly meter readings, or forecasting with incomplete data.


We have the most accurate tariff engine on the market. This has been demonstrated both by our track record of acquiring new customers, but also by third party validations like NREL’s in 2015. Once in production, we’re continuously QAing thousands of calculations against expected and actual bill values to ensure accuracy is preserved for all customers, irrespective of tariff or elective. We can model, verify & introduce new tariffs structures in as few as ten business days, and make simple rate changes in one business day. Every time a change is made, we run extensive regressions against every permutation of every tariff, elective, and rider. By making sure the changes successfully regress against these control data scenarios, we ensure accuracy is preserved for all customers. When working directly with utility companies who have access to granular usage and bill determinant information, we guarantee 99% accuracy.


A major focus when designing Signal was making sure onboarding of new utilities is fast and always improving. We’re currently in production with more than 50 companies, all with various platforms in applications including solar, storage, commercial building energy management, EV charging, and smart appliances. We have solutions in place that address common stumbling points during integration including things like rounding, daylight savings time, holidays, etc. Our team actively supports tariff mapping to whatever data sources are available whether utility billing systems, meter data management systems, or other databases. We’ll make sure you get into production as quickly as possible, and frequently support multiple integrations simultaneously. Once in production there is dedicated staff monitoring the accuracy of our services, and a support team that is always available to answer data or engineering questions. We scale technology and resources to make sure there’s always more than enough capacity to support call volume well beyond actual levels.


Utilities are scaling vertically in the number of customers, as well as horizontally with new tariffs, products and services. Signal is built to support calculations simultaneously for multiple utilities. Signal is fast and reliable. Our cloud based solution is hosted on Amazon Web Services (AWS), and scales automatically with demand (see figure 1 below). We use advanced caching so rates return quickly, and have a parallelized architecture to provide speed and scale. With Signal, all of your data is secure. Our databases use industry-standard backup procedures and failover. Your data is always available.

Signal comes with strong SLAs that ensure speed and throughput. We understand that calculations must occur instantaneously for website and mobile engagement. Paper reports and outbound communications require the ability to run millions of customers through multiple calculations. Our services are designed to deliver sub 150ms response times for on-demand calculations and can handle millions of accounts to populate information on outbound communications.


Figure 1. API call response time vs. volume

Our Commitment

We take great pride in actively supporting our more than 50 customers, ranging from large organizations, like Engie and GE, to emerging energy customers like Drift who are growing their businesses. Genability is committed to serving you and your end customers  Our support team is comprised of subject matter experts available to help you along the way. More information about Genability is available here on our website.

See how Signal might help you by contacting us at sales@genability.com.

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Why Rate Design Matters More Than Ever

We here at Genability think a lot about electricity tariffs, their design and their impact. It’s why we built our latest product Signal, and our company for that matter. We fundamentally believe that the power of price will help us solve our energy problems. Two recent reports shed some light on the power of price and how electricity rate design is a high impact, low-cost, way to mitigate many of the challenges facing the modern electricity grid. Here is a summary of our summer rates reports reading list (say that three times fast).

Regulators and utility companies are facing $50B to $80B in additional costs per year over the next decade to address the complex challenges from increased peak electricity demand, higher penetration of distributed energy resources (DER), and an aging grid infrastructure. In addition to these costs, utilities also face significant revenue shortfalls resulting from customer defection attributed to DERs such as rooftop solar and storage.

Utilities are increasingly moving from simple flat $/kWh rates to tiered, time varying and demand based rate structures. These new structures are enabled through advanced metering infrastructure, and are inherently more complex. Widespread customer adoption of these new tariffs, whether voluntary or by mandate, is the only way for utilities to realize cost benefits associated with converting to new rate structures.

Grid Infrastructure Costs

A recent publication by the Rocky Mountain Institute titled The Economics of Demand Flexibility determined that residential rate reform alone can lead to ~$13 billion/year in avoided infrastructure costs (Figure 1). The majority of these cost savings are derived from avoided use of expensive peaking power plants (frequently referred to as “peakers”) as well as avoided cost of building new generating and  transmission capacity.


Figure 1. Economics of Demand Flexibility

Figure 1. Economics of Demand Flexibility


While aggregate electricity consumption has flattened over the past few years, peak loads continue to increase as load curves further polarize between peak & off peak (the CAISO duck curve, Figure 2). Utilities conventionally build more capacity to facilitate peak load, which means higher rates for customers even with flat or declining gross electricity consumption.

By making energy more expensive when expected load is higher, utility companies incentivize customers to modify when they use electricity. This ultimately saves both consumers and utilities money over the long run. When designed and executed correctly, benefits of effective rate design alone can shave peak loads by 10%, as proven by Sacramento Municipal Utility District in a 2 year pilot.


2. CAISO Duck Curve

Figure 2. CAISO Duck Curve


Distributed Energy Resources

With greater than 1,000,000 solar installations and 500,000 electric vehicles sold, U.S. consumer preference for alternate energy resources is indisputable. The rapid growth of solar, storage, microgrids, demand response, electric vehicles and connected devices presents both opportunity and risk for electric utilities. Some utility companies cite DERs as the reason for grid instability, revenue shortfalls, and claim that those with solar or storage benefit from current regulatory policy at the financial expense of others.

The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC) recently released a report addressing the role of DERs in the future grid, and outlined rate design as a major driver in aligning utility and customer priorities. The Manual on Distributed Energy Resources Compensation is intended to be a neutral manual helping utilities, regulators, and distributed energy providers use rate design as a way to bring together business models. The focus is on assigning appropriate value for electricity exported into the grid as a function of load conditions for a particular time and location. Over the next several months stakeholder comments on the publication will be made public driving increased dialogue. There are already examples of utilities using rate design and market-based compensation as ways of using DERs to their advantage such as the recent procurement by Southern California Edison and New York State’s Reforming the Energy Vision.

Genability has been working closely with the biggest names in distributed energy  services for over 5 years providing cost and savings analytics. Our newest product Signal is the first cloud-based utility rate engine with national coverage built for today’s grid. We’ll follow up in the next post about what makes Signal the world’s greatest rate engine. If you have questions or would like a demo please contact us at sales@genability.com.

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Announcing Signal, the world’s best utility rate engine

Genability is pleased to announce our latest product, Signal. Signal is our first product purely for Utilities and Retail Electric Providers (REPs). Signal empowers these providers with the ability to better understand and present electricity costs and savings wherever they engage, service and communicate with customers.


Digital Engagement & Outbound Communications


Signal answers a growing need for utilities to use the power of price to incentivize customers to use their energy in ways that are compatible with the macro trends like increased renewables and the electrification of transportation (i.e. to “Signal” smarter usage). Utility tariffs are becoming increasingly complex. Demand Charges and Time-of-Use (TOU) rates are on the rise. Regulators and policymakers are mandating more effective customer engagement on costs and savings as a key step in the path to rate reform. Signal was built to power customer relationship platforms, digital and mobile push communications, as well as more traditional paper reports. Signal supports it all.

What Can Utilities Power with Signal?

Tariff Plan Comparisons, Cost Transparency

Electric utilities can now provide their customers with instant comparisons across all available rate plans and options. This works for the smallest residential customers to the largest industrial plants. Signal also calculates accurate historical and month to date costs. Results can be provided down to a billing components or line item level, with granularity at the billing period, calendar month, or by Tier, TOU period, day, hour and even 15 minute increment. The data provided by Signal helps customers avoid bill shocks, compare trends in electricity costs and improve their customer satisfaction, all while reducing utility support costs.

Powerful “What-If” Functionality

Beyond rate plan and elective changes, Signal also helps customers “what-if” changes to usage patterns, efficiency measures, EV adoption and smart charging implementation strategies and much more. Signal helps utilities move load by quantifying the cost impact of load changes under TOU pricing, demand charges and during dynamic events. Signal calculates customers’ costs, presenting savings in dollars, not just kWh.

Deregulated Market Customer Acquisition

Signal was also designed for Retail Electric Providers. In deregulated markets, REPs can use Signal to acquire new customers by accurately displaying price-to-compare and bundled rates. For existing end customers, Signal enables a host of digital engagement features such as rate analysis, bill comparisons and “what-if” analysis. With Signal, REPs can fully reconstruct customers’ utility bills, enabling shadow billing and innovative energy service products.

Analysis of Solar, Storage, Electric Vehicles and More

Utilities are increasingly offering distributed energy advice and resources directly to customers. Utilities can use Signal to help customers understand the economics of these New Energy products, including rooftop and community solar, energy storage, electric vehicles and more. Genability’s Switch product provides the cost and savings information for nine of the top ten solar companies, as well as all major storage company. Signal now brings the same industry leading capability direct to utilities.

Accuracy & Performance Guaranteed

At its core, Signal uses Genability’s powerful rate engine and accurate, comprehensive tariff rate database. Our accuracy, depth of coverage of tariff rates, service performance, uptime and speed are unmatched in the industry. Our tariffs have been evaluated by NREL to be accurate to within two cents and we perform over 1,000 data quality checks on every single rate change. We have a track record for our API’s uptime at well over our 99.95% guarantee, and response times less than 150 milliseconds. With 24/7 critical support and over 100 combined years of energy industry experience, no other service can come close to Signal.

We work hard to maintain this level of performance for a reason. We understand how important it is for you and your customers that any costs and savings presented are accurate. That is why Signal comes with concrete guarantees on accuracy and performance. To do this, we’ve baked a comprehensive suite of tools directly into Signal to measure and validate accuracy during onboarding, rate updates, and ongoing in real time (more details coming on this in an upcoming blog post). Each Signal contract includes Service Level Agreements that guarantee support for millions of calls, with response times measured in milliseconds, and with costs that are proved to meet the highest accuracy standards.

Join Industry Leaders Oracle Opower, Engie and Just Energy

Today we are proud to also announce that Oracle’s Opower is a Signal customer, and that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) is deploying Signal as part of their next generation digital engagement and rate education platform from Opower across all 5.5 million residential, commercial and industrial electricity accounts.  REPs such as Engie and Just Energy also use Signal to provide price-to-compare applications in their consumer portals, as well as present potential new products.

A Rate Engine for the Future

It’s important to note that Signal’s rate models are dynamic and data driven. No code changes are required to publish new tariff versions, even when there are fundamental changes to rate structure such as removing tiers or adding demand charges. In fact, our model supports every rate we have found in the market (ratchets, block & index, tiers, etc.), and given we’ve modeled residential, commercial and industrial rates for the USA, Canada, Mexico, Australia and the UK, we’ve seen a lot of complexity. Signal is ready and able to support your rate initiative now and in the future. Signal is also the perfect platform for more powerful rate design, and we intend to build enhanced design tools in the Signal product suite starting next year.

Want to Learn More?

Signal is available today. We have some additional information on our website (http://www.genability.com/signal). To learn more email us at sales@genability.com and we will  setup a demo and answer all your questions. Also, keep an eye out for future blogs where we will delve into all the details of Signal. Next up we’ll talk about how we make sure your rates, costs and savings are accurate and up to date.

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The Tesla and SolarCity Big Bundle

At Genability, we’ve been thinking about what the new energy future might be, pretty much all day, every day, for the last six years. To me, it feels inevitable that i) a sizable portion of our energy generation will be distributed, ii) distributed storage and load intelligence will have to be used to smooth intermittent supply, and iii) we will electrify the vast majority of our transportation. I could be wrong. I hope I’m not. But we are certainly heading in that direction.

If this hypothesis is true, then the interesting question for me is: what business models will succeed? You have an industry that has historically been dominated by local, regulated monopolies — not the traditional hotbed of business innovation. The outcome of the proposed merger of Tesla and SolarCity could turn out to just be an ill-advised bailout (as some have suggested), or a well timed acqui-hire type transaction that helps Tesla become better EV+Battery company with a bit of solar on the side. Or, it could be Elon Musk’s next significant step in his master plan.

In this blog I’d like to do a thought experiment on the potential benefits should the merger result in Tesla selling a unified product that includes an electric vehicle and an electric generation system (car, solar, battery). Let’s call it the “Big Bundle”.  This is not my prediction of what the two companies will actually do — while both Tesla and SolarCity are Genability customers, this is not based on any insider knowledge of whether the companies are thinking “Big Bundle” or not. It’s purely “what if”.

Also, don’t take this as investment advice (lets just say my 401(k) is “underperforming”).

Want to buy a Big Bundle?

Driving an EV changes your relationship to electricity in fundamental ways. First, you think more about what it costs, where it comes from, and when you use it. In talking to our friends at BMW and elsewhere, it’s clear that EV owners show a heightened interest in solar. Lets assume (pretend?) that Tesla wants to go all-in and bet on that sentiment. It takes its strong brand, massive battery factory, and bolts on the head start(?) of the market leading solar company to put a car, solar and home battery system into one lovely, big new energy product. Then it sells it direct. And I’m not talking a la carte here. Meet the “Big Bundle”.

What advantages would the Big Bundle need to make it a huge winner?

One. Customer Acquisition

Let’s start with the obvious one: If selling solar with every cars makes sense, then that would take a sizable chunk out of the estimated $4,000 customer acquisition costs most solar companies currently experience. Imagine including a solar install with those 400,000 pre-orders for the Tesla Model 3. There were 17.5mm cars sold last year in the U.S.. We’ve just crossed the 1mm homes with solar mark counting up all home solar systems. Ever. The Big Bundle would beat pure solar on price and scale.

Two. Automotive Financing Adapted Nicely

The car industry has got pretty good at providing attractive financing for the purchase of a car. Auto loans have large pools of capital, mature providers and liquidity. It’s understood by consumers. Now that solar is growing and getting cheaper, solar financing is getting better. But by piggy-backing on auto financing, the Big Bundle would have a significant advantage. There are two additional benefits to financing a bundle rather than the panels alone: First, auto financiers know how to take back your car if you stop paying. No solar company repossesses your solar system if you don’t pay. And second, once repossessed, a car has value on a liquid resale market. Who would the bank sell your solar panels to if they took them off your roof? With a bundle loan, any excess equity in your repossessed car could offset losses on the panels. Admittedly, the car’s resale might not always be enough to cover the remaining balance, but across a portfolio, the risk is reduced vs pure solar loans.

Big Bundle gets cheap financing. If panels continue to come down in price at the dramatic pace they have been, it might not cost much more than repairing those 21″ rims.

Three. Fuel savings are Productized Too

Now I start getting excited. Big Bundle solar, battery and the car together and you are selling the fuel and the transport. Tesla would be tangibly baking fuel cost savings into their revenue stream. No more “this other check you write to this other company will be lower” sales pitch. Imagine if GM were able to sell you the car and its lifetime of gas (without much fuel cost risk)? Whooa Nelly!

Four. Home & Destination Charging Expertise

Car companies haven’t historically had to come to your house. The EV experience is greatly improved if you have a good fast charging option at home (as a Tesla driver, trust me, it’s night and day). In an unbundled world, installation and maintenance of your home charger may be best provided by a third party (Genability customer ChargePoint is starting to do just that). Tesla may think smart home charging is too important to outsource. SolarCity has put a lot of time and effort into better truck roll operations, and are closer to national coverage than anyone else. If you are going to (truck) roll, why not roll for a Big Bundle? If bundle beats unbundle, Tesla + SolarCity has one hell of a head start.

What-If’s are fun, but reality bites

In the real world, rather than my “what-if” one, a Big Bundle-only strategy faces big challenges. For starters, there are lots of potential EV drivers that rent a home, live in a state that prohibits solar, have a big tree shading their roof, think solar is communist, and on and on. Selling nothing but a Big Bundle would be very audacious. But that doesn’t mean that without a pure bundle strategy, there isn’t value to Tesla from SolarCity. Beyond the points above, think about the “steel in the ground” expertise that SolarCity brings to Tesla’s SuperCharger work.

Even if practical, I’m not sure that bundle beats unbundle in this case (in ten years will iOS beat Android, Native Apps beat HTML?). Maybe there will only be room for one “Apple of EV” (might be Apple!). It does seem likely that Tesla will sell EVs without home batteries, and home batteries without Solar, via channels and not just direct. Unbundled and bundled options. Regardless, I think this stuff is fascinating, hope the merger goes though, and look forward to seeing what comes of it. For our clean, abundant energy future to get here quicker, lets hope some of this “what-if” comes true.

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Security and Savings in Amazon VPC

In March 2016, Genability migrated its application servers and databases into Amazon’s Virtual Private Cloud (VPC). We initiated this change anticipating that it would not only provide hard security guarantees, but reduce our infrastructure costs without impacting performance. After a few months of close monitoring, the results are in: mission-critical resources are inaccessible to the public internet and we’ve reduced infrastructure costs by 50%, all while handling a tenfold increase in daily API traffic.


Established as a default in late 2013, AWS VPC allows users to create cloud resources which are “logically isolated from other virtual networks in the AWS cloud”. This has several advantages:

  • General and resource-specific control over incoming and outgoing connections
  • Access control rules which can be changed without stopping/starting servers
  • Persistent private IP addresses
  • Custom network interfaces

For Genability, this means we’re able to segregate our AWS resources into public and private subnets, isolate our production data, and establish fail-safe defaults which allow new resources to access what they need quickly and securely.

For accounts created before 2013, AWS also provides an incentive to make the VPC switch: access to the AWS T2 instance type.


AWS T2 servers “provide a baseline level of CPU performance with the ability to burst above the baseline”. This is great for most of Genability’s applications which, like most electricity grids, experience peak traffic which is substantively greater than the base load:

API traffic during a typical day

API traffic during a typical day

When traffic is low, T2 servers earn “CPU credits” which can be used when traffic is heavy to dynamically meet demand with the same level of performance. For Amazon, this means a more efficient use of their resources; savings they split with their customers.

Switching to the T2 instances, combined with some overdue AWS housekeeping, reduced our AWS costs to 50% of their 2015 average:

AWS cost breakdown

AWS cost breakdown

At the same time, traffic on Genability’s API increased tenfold:

API throughput March-April 2016

API throughput March-April 2016

What’s next: performance improvements aimed at reducing server-side response times by 30% to help us exceed performance expectations under increasing load.

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Accurate Savings Forecasts: California’s NEM 2.0 & Hawaii’s Customer Grid Supply

Update: On June 23, 2016 the CPUC revised an earlier decision and determined that “imports and exports to the grid shall be netted within the metered interval and non-bypassable charges should only be charged on the net import from the grid in the metered interval (Resolution E-4792).” Genability Switch results for NEM 2.0 markets will not utilize coincident import & export features described below. We will enable this feature for markets where exports are assigned differential value on a real-time basis.


New regulatory policy and corresponding tariff changes in California and Hawaii mean more complexity in forecasting solar savings. Genability has you covered. We’ve added enhancements as part of Switch Version 4 to improve your savings analyses amidst these new rules. This includes new algorithms to determine how much energy is exported to the grid at any time during the day, all without any additional changes to your quoting platform or sales process.

Markets Potentially Affected by Dual Register Metering

California Investor Owned Utility (IOU) 

Encouraged by the existing Net Energy Metering (NEM 1.0) program, California has led the way in rooftop solar growth over the last few years. Under this program most Californians going solar receive full retail credit for energy their solar system exports to the electricity grid.

In January of this year the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved the framework for a successor to the existing NEM 1.0 program, referred to as NEM 2.0. This will roll out to new solar customers over the next year as each of the three California IOU utilities reaches its existing program cap. With NEM 2.0, new solar customers still receive retail credits for most charges on their bill. However, a number of so-called non-bypassable charges are no longer rolled back at full retail rate when solar energy is exported to the grid. These fees fund public projects such as nuclear decommissioning and are typically a small part of your bill. Also under NEM 2.0, new solar customers are required to switch to a Time of Use (TOU) plan (whose rates vary by time of day), except in SDG&E where mandatory TOU requirements are on hold until a later date.

Switch customers can now model customer savings using both California’s NEM 1.0 and NEM 2.0 systems and receive the industry’s most accurate savings forecasts. The difference in savings between the two NEM programs depends on a customer’s electricity usage patterns and the corresponding size and energy production of their solar system.


Note that anyone interconnected before the cap expires will remain on the NEM 1.0 rates for 20 years following their interconnection date.

Aloha State Rate Changes and Export Limits (HECO, MECO, HELCO)

California is not the only state that has historically benefited from NEM but is now experiencing some big changes. In Hawaii, high electricity prices drove one in four single family homes to have rooftop solar. In aggregate all these installations can intermittently export large amounts of energy back to the electricity grid. Citing grid stability concerns, Hawaiian Electric Company ended their  NEM program to all new residential solar customers last year.  Similar to California, existing NEM customers will be grandfathered for 20 years from their interconnection date.

What’s replaced it? New solar customers in Hawaii now have two choices. Option one is called Customer Self Supply (CSS), is very different from NEM, and is truly a first for the solar industry in the US. Any home adopting the CSS tariff cannot export any electricity to the grid. In practice this means the home must also install energy storage or other approved load shedding technology to store excess energy produced by the solar system. To encourage this, homes will receive expedited interconnection.

Option two is Customer Grid Supply (CGS) which is similar to what it’s replacing, in that exported energy does generate credits. However, these credits do not add up to full retail rates, and are only guaranteed for 2 years. There is a very low cap on how many systems can qualify for CGS, the tariff will likely close in late summer of this year.


CGS customers will have dual register metering systems installed as part of interconnection. This will accurately track two values over time; i) the amount imported by the home from the grid, and ii) the amount the home exported to the grid.  

Genability Now Handles Coincident Export & Import

We’ve updated Switch to support changes in Hawaii and California. A critical part of supporting these policy changes is intelligently forecasting how much energy is exported into the grid at any point in time. We’re now able to determine coincident import and export values without having granular consumption and production data.

At any moment in time, a home with rooftop solar could be either importing or exporting from/to the grid. The home will import electricity when all the appliances, HVAC, etc. are consuming more energy than the solar system is generating in that instant. Similarly, the home exports energy when the solar system produces more than the home is using in that instant. Coincident is how much solar production lines up with electricity usage in that instance. Under full retail rate NEM this wasn’t important because a home would get the same rate credit for exports and rate charges for imports. These new tariffs credit exported energy at a new lower rate, so it’s important to accurately forecast the two separately.

With this upgrade, Switch calculates coincidence and determines import and export levels. We take usage and solar production values for each hour in a year, and forecast how this will translate into the amount imported and the amount exported during that hour. Our algorithm takes into account the relative size of the load vs solar production as well as the inherent variability in both. For instance, in late evening when the sun is setting and homeowners are back from work, the algorithm may predict all solar goes toward offsetting usage — i.e., 0 kWh exported — since production is much lower than consumption with little variability. However, for certain hours when consumption and production are similar, as is common in the mornings, the Savings Analysis call will carefully calculate how much usage is imported, how much solar goes to offset usage, and how much solar is exported to the grid.

Despite the complexities introduced by assigning different values to self-consumed vs. exported electricity, Genability Switch still gives accurate savings forecasts. This is made possible by accounting for the fact that household load and solar production may not be equal every minute, even if net export is 0 over the course of an hour.

How Can I Take Advantage of These Upgrades?

For those already using Switch, no additional parameters need to be specified in Savings Analysis calls to model the coincident import/export pricing — you only have to ensure that your call references the correct post-solar tariff (e.g., PG&E’s E-TOU-A or E-TOU-B). These calculations support the usual monthly consumption values by taking advantage of our Intelligent Baselining feature.  Genability will continue to track policy changes in California and elsewhere to ensure that Switch calculates savings accurately and always per released tariffs.

Creating Savings Analyses under California’s NEM 2.0 and grid export systems in Hawaii are just a few of the powerful new additions in Switch V4. You can learn all about Switch here.

For those not using Genability’s Switch API, we’re happy to show how this and other Switch v4 upgrades can help your team. Email us at sales@genability.com to set up a demo of Switch.

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Genability Switch V4: New APIs

Over the past few weeks we’ve introduced Switch API upgrades including Dash, a web-app to view and troubleshoot savings analyses, and Savings Analysis Watch, which automatically reviews Savings Analysis results for atypical results.

To complement these new features, you can now access information on historical savings analyses through the Savings Analysis History API, and on the results of the real-time data quality checks via the Savings Analysis Watch API.  This allows you to integrate all the functionality of Dash and Watch directly into your quote tool.

Savings Analysis History

The Savings Analysis History endpoint allows users to view historical savings analysis requests and results. Altogether, this provides an API through which you can see the evolution of a proposal for a potential customer.

Specifically, the Savings Analysis History endpoint lets you obtain historical calls for a particular account using one of the following requests:

GET /rest/v1/accounts/{accountId}/analyses
GET /rest/v1/accounts/pid/{providerAccountId}/analyses

Either of these requests will provide information on all Savings Analysis calls made for this account. You can also retrieve a particular Savings Analysis for an account:

GET /rest/v1/accounts/{accountId}/analyses/{savingsAnalysisId}
GET /rest/v1/accounts/pid/{providerAccountId}/analyses/{savingsAnalysisId}

These requests will return the unique identifier of the Savings Analysis call, the created date, and the summary information originally returned (e.g., preTotalCost, lifetimeSolarCost).

Savings Analysis Watch

Detailed in a recent blog post, Savings Analysis Watch is a tool that monitors the quality of Savings Analysis calls in real-time. While Dash offers a web-interface to view the Watch results, you can also query for the results via the Watch API for a single savings analysis call, or for multiple calls.

To view all Watch results for a particular savings analysis, use one of the following requests:


The requests will return the definition of the data quality check and the status of the Watch result (e.g., “Passed”).

The request to view Watch results for a set of savings analyses uses the following syntax:

GET /rest/v1/watch/results/{filters}

Where you can filter by utility, when the original Savings Analysis call was made, and status of the Watch result.

Using the New APIs

More information on how to integrate with the APIs is found in our Genability Developer Documentation on Savings Analysis History and Savings Analysis Watch. You can also contact support@genability.com with questions.

Those who aren’t currently Switch customers but are interested in leveraging these APIs and the other Switch V4 features, set up a demo by emailing sales@genability.com today!

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Savings Analysis Watch: Monitoring the Quality of Your Proposals in Real-Time

Around 60,000 proposals for rooftop solar are expected to be generated per week in 2016. In the competitive landscape of distributed energy generation and storage, how can companies reasonably monitor the integrity of these proposals?

Genability is pleased to announce Savings Analysis Watch ─ a tool that assesses the quality of solar quotes in real time. This allows you to stay informed about the quality of proposals by monitoring up-to-the-minute Watch results, ultimately helping to reduce potential errors as they occur, and improving the overall experience at the point of sale.

How does it work?

When a Savings Analysis call is made, Watch compares the calculated Avoided Cost to an expected range in real time. A status is assigned to every comparison that is run: passed, failed, or failed critical. These denote whether the Avoided Cost is within the expected range, outside of the range, or significantly outside of the range.

For example, you use Genability’s Switch API to create a solar proposal for the home at 123 Genability Drive, San Francisco, CA, 94109. The Savings Analysis call made for this scenario returns a predicted Avoided Cost of 11.0 ¢/kWh. Simultaneously, Watch compares the calculated Avoided Cost to a range typically seen for addresses served by the utility in that area.

switch_v4_dt_01-01Similar addresses in PG&E’s Baseline Region T, typically exhibit Avoided Costs between 13.1 and 34.3 ¢/kWh. Watch then calculates the severity of failure (non-critical versus critical) based on how far from the expected range the check falls. Although this Avoided Cost has been flagged, it does not necessarily indicate there is an error (oversizing a PV system may legitimately lead to low Avoided cost, for example). Rather, the failed check suggests that Avoided Cost is atypical enough that someone may want to take a second look.

Where do the expected ranges come from?

To determine expected ranges, Genability examined the Avoided Costs calculated for nearly 2 million Savings Analysis calls.

Currently, we have about 120 checks covering areas (PG&E Baseline Region T for example) served by the top 50 utilities, where the expected ranges are based on statistical analysis of tens of thousands of savings analyses. We also have 48 state-level checks, which have relatively wider expected ranges. These particular ranges were based on analysis of historical Savings Analysis calls along with Avoided Costs generated using our national set of typical load profiles.

As the trends in Avoided Cost evolve over time (largely due to changing tariff rates), we will continue to update the expected range values, as well as expand coverage to other utilities.

How do I see Watch results?

There are three ways to see Watch results:


Genability’s new web app Dash, provides a simple UI to review and manage a list of Watch results, as seen in the image below. You can filter or sort by date, status, state and utility. Clicking any check result takes you to a view with information on the original Savings Analysis request and result. This can quickly help identify what may be triggering a check result — minimum bill charges being invoked, leading to a low Avoided Cost, for example. (The basics of viewing a specific account or Savings Analysis in Dash was covered in a previous blog post.)


Real-time email notifications

Watch can optionally send email notifications in real time. These emails are only triggered when Watch indicates a Savings Analysis leads to a critical-level failure. An example of what this email alert looks like is below. The email is sent immediately after the Savings Analysis is run.

Email alerts are inactive by default, but can be configured upon request. There is flexibility to customize which utility Avoided Costs you want to be notified about and which you’d rather not receive alerts for.

Savings Analysis Watch API

Finally, Watch results can also be accessed and integrated into your platform via a new API endpoint. This will be covered in an upcoming blog post.

I need to use Watch! How do I get started?

All Switch customers can access Dash and the Watch API. Email support@genability.com for questions on accessing these resources or if you’d like to start receiving real-time Watch notifications via email.

Those without a subscription to Genability’s Savings Analysis API can email sales@genability.com to get a demo of our Switch product!


Posted in API, Developers, Info, News, Residential, Switch | Comments closed
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