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New York ESCO Files Petition To Offer Smart Home Bundle To Residential Customers

January 29, 2021

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Copyright 2010-21
Reporting by Paul Ring •

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Atlantic Energy, LLC requested from the New York PSC a partial waiver from the mass market product limit requirements under the PSC's retail market reset order in order to continue offering its smart home bundle (the 'Smart Home Program') to residential customers

"The Smart Home Program provides customers with value-added commodity services that provide a range of benefits, including reduced personal electric consumption, interactive and educational tools that foster consumer awareness and interest in energy efficiency, and corresponding local distribution system benefits that accrue broadly to distribution utility ratepayers," Atlantic said

"Atlantic has developed a bundled commodity product that includes smart home energy management products and services which are coordinated through a smart phone application designed to increase customer awareness of energy usage, energy efficiency, and savings opportunities," Atlantic said

As further described below, the smart home program includes smart bulbs, security cameras, a speaker bulb, smart plugs, and led bulbs

"Customers that enroll in Atlantic’s Smart Home Program would receive a series of “smart packages” throughout the term of their agreement with Atlantic Energy. After the first three months, a customer would receive three Wi-Fi-enabled color-changing smart LED bulbs (“Smart Bulbs”) and a Wi-Fi-enabled smart camera (“Security Camera”). The Smart Bulbs and Security Camera are controlled via Atlantic’s custom smart phone application available on the Apple’s App Store or on Google Play (“Smart Phone App”). When a customer downloads the Smart Phone App, he or she is prompted to connect the Smart Bulbs and Security Camera to the customer’s Wi-Fi service. Once connected, the customer can sync multiple lights and control those lights through the Smart Phone App or through Alexa/Google voice control. The Smart Bulbs are shatter resistant bulbs and can be programmed to emit 15,000 shades of white light and 50 million color options to provide maximum customization to meet individual lighting preferences. The Security Camera can be programmed to notify the customer of movement, record, and play back video clips in both daytime and nighttime conditions," Atlantic said

"After six months, a customer would receive the second smart package comprised of one Bluetooth-enabled speaker bulb (“Speaker Bulb”) and one Wi-Fi-enabled security camera. Atlantic’s Speaker Bulb is a smart LED lighting fixture which syncs with a customer’s smart phone or computer to play music from the light bulb itself, allowing customers to seamlessly and cleanly integrate speakers into a room or to offer a unique surround-sound experience if paired with multiple Speaker Bulbs. After one year, Atlantic’s customers would receive a third smart package comprised of 10 energy efficient LED bulbs to round out their smart home bundle, and after eighteen months the customer would receive a fourth smart package comprised of three Wi-Fi-enabled smart plugs (“Smart Plugs”). The Smart Plugs allow customers to control, schedule, and monitor connected home devices from anywhere through a smart phone, tablet, or PC. The Smart Plugs can be used to set timers which automatically shut off or turn on devices, and can be paired with Alexa or Google voice control technologies to quickly and easily control devices without the touch of a button," Atlantic said

"Atlantic’s Smart Home Program is properly classified as an energy-related value-added product and service. The Smart Home Program provides multiple layers of energy-related value, including but not limited to, reduced on-site electricity consumption, demand reduction value to the distribution grid, and enhanced education, engagement, and awareness of personal energy usage. Many of those values are expressly listed in the Order as the types of energy-related products and services that ESCOs have been encouraged to develop," Atlantic said

"Notably, the value provided by the Smart Home Program is unquestionably more directly energy-related than the insurance provided by EnergyGuard-type products [the only value-added product approved to date], and it is certainly “closely related” to the customer’s electricity usage," Atlantic said

Atlantic provided certain information concerning current customers served under the smart home program under seal, but noted publicly that, as of this year, Atlantic has over 35,000 customers actively using its Smart Phone App across the various jurisdictions in which it operates. "These products and services collectively provide significant load relief and grid benefits commensurate with ConEd’s customer-subsidized programs, the value of which is expressly acknowledged and understood by the Commission," Atlantic said

"Atlantic firmly believes that the tethering of its smart home products with electric commodity is prudent and appropriate because it allows Atlantic to offer a comprehensive suite of products and services in a cohesive and streamlined manner. In Atlantic’s experience, homeowners and businesses are increasingly demanding holistic and integrated electrification solutions to accommodate and optimize the growing number of interconnected electronic devices and systems, from air conditioners to electric vehicles to lighting. One of the greatest challenges in this sector is that products and services are isolated from one another and managed in a disjoined fashion which causes customer fatigue, confusion, and disengagement," Atlantic said

"Tethering, bundling, and integrating these products and services is a critical element to achieving success and engaging customers, both from a business standpoint, as well as an energy policy standpoint. This is particularly the case with Atlantic’s Smart Home Program, which provides the physical hardware, management software, and customer engagement features in one comprehensive package. Providing customers with integrated, connected, smart lighting options that can be controlled at the customer’s fingertip through a smart phone app may seem trivial, but those products provide additional value in normalizing and encouraging customer behavior to monitor and interact with their electric devices in previously unimaginable ways," Atlantic said

"Atlantic’s Smart Home Program provides additional value with respect to consumer education, awareness, and engagement of individualized energy usage. Each smart device provided by Atlantic is designed to be connected to and controlled by Atlantic’s Smart Phone App in a customizable manner. Providing customers with the ability to quickly and remotely adjust lighting or other electricity consuming devices in the home encourages awareness and oversight of home energy usage. Lights, air conditioners, or other devices which may have been accidentally left on after an individual has left for work, or for vacation, can be quickly and easily adjusted in a manner that saves customers money, provides peace of mind, and provides grid-wide benefits," Atlantic said

"Atlantic’s Smart Home Program also primes and prepares customers to expand their involvement in energy management services as new market rules, programs, and opportunities present themselves in New York’s transition to a carbon neutral electric grid in the forthcoming decades. Smart plugs and user-controlled LED products are gateways to deeper customer engagement and participation in demand response, energy efficiency, time-of-use rates, and other grid-edge solutions that advance the transition to a decentralized, distributed, and transactive grid that is the hallmark of REV," Atlantic said

"In addition to the qualitative and quantitative benefits and values described above, Atlantic’s customers also receive the monetary value of the merchandise provided under the Smart Home Program. Customers enrolled in Atlantic’s Smart Home Program would receive significant value in merchandise and cloud storage capabilities between the Wi-Fi connected Smart Bulbs, Security Camera, Speaker Bulbs, LED products, and Smart Plugs, along with free and unlimited access to Atlantic’s Smart Phone App that can be used to monitor and control those devices, and unlimited cloud storage for the Security Camera which covers a rolling thirty-day history of video clips," Atlantic said

"Atlantic’s Programs undoubtedly provide value in the form of reduced on-site electricity consumption, distribution grid benefits, and enhanced education and awareness of personal energy usage, and the myriad of qualitative (which are by their nature unquantifiable) benefits associated with smart home appliances and curated custom lighting," Atlantic said

As previously reported, the PSC in a recent order took issue with ESCOs that relied upon the PSC's prior specific "invitation", for ESCOs to file waiver requests for home warranty products, to submit additional waiver requests for other products (in this case, green gas)

Case 15-M-0127 et al.

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