Making Sense of NB Power's Energy Efficiency Change: Will Customers Get on Board?

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Teasdale, Carmel
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Mount Saint Vincent University
The electricity landscape is changing from one where utilities build their infrastructure to meet peak demand to using technology and communications to be more energy efficient. Paramount to utilities achieving this goal of energy efficiency is changing their relationship with customers from a service provide to energy partner. This change in customer behaviour and attitude requires a transformational change strategy for utilities. Much of the literature suggests best practices that mirror the characteristics of Grunig’s Excellence Theory of communications, as utility and customer must be aligned and work together. As a vertically-integrated, publically owned utility, NB Power provides an interesting case study into energy efficiency campaign. It is in the first three years of a ten-year partnership with Siemens Canada to implement Reduce and Shift Demand, a program to investigate potential technology to be more energy efficient that runs in parallel with a promotional campaign to engage customers. A qualitative analysis of the text on NB Power’s website, as seen through the analytical constructs of Weick’s Sensemaking properties and benefits and barriers, and demonstrated by Fisk’s Theory of Responsible Consumption and Throne-Holst et al.’s Barriers to Energy Savings Solutions, provides insight into how NB Power perceives their customer, their objectives and themselves.
energy efficiency , customer engagement , Excellence Theory