One trillion dollars. That’s how much the American Society of Civil Engineers says utilities in the United States will have to pay to replace aging infrastructure and to continue delivering safe, reliable drinking water to customers 24/7. It’s clear that federal and state governments aren’t handing out cash to fund these critical projects, so as an industry, it’s imperative to find ways to bridge the gap between infrastructure needs and customer needs. It’s time for local utilities to get creative, and to transform customers into true consumers of water.
To clarify, we mean we have to bring customers into the fold to understand the economics of utilities. If we can educate customers around the challenges water utilities face, and simultaneously give them the technology and tools to better control their usage (and their bill!), then we believe we can achieve two things:
- Deliver more affordable water to customers
- Ensure profitable water utilities
Below are some examples that illustrate the value in shifting water customers to true consumers:
If customers know that by conserving water in the summer months, the utility can replace a storage tank at 20% less capacity than it’s currently built to hold – that means there’s a surplus of capital dollars that no longer need to be spent on infrastructure replacement. This savings on the utility side translates to savings for the customer. It also means easier maintenance for the utility because the necessary infrastructure is smaller and less cumbersome.
By fully understanding when, where, and how customers are using water, utilities can take steps to reduce peak demands in the system. By reducing peak demands, the utility can reduce the pressure needed to deliver water to customers. This results in a reduction in line breaks, which in turn means customers experience fewer service interruptions. This also helps infrastructure last longer, and increases the number of planned infrastructure repairs – saving money, since emergency repairs and replacements cost significantly more.
Jointly building customer outreach solutions that facilitate customer self-service for billing issues, late payments, and leaks means customers become more educated on what drives utility costs and in turn, their charges. When systems are in place to communicate with customers at this level, utility customers are more in control of their bills, and utilities experience lower costs to operate.
Making customers true consumers of water is a win-win – the utility spends less money, and customers pay less for water and receive better service. This transformation begins with utilities thoroughly understanding water use in their local communities, and equipping customers with the tools they need to understand their water consumption, the impact it has on their wallets, and the cost of their water over time.
Ready to talk about making your customers true consumers of water? Learn more about The Smart Grid for Water at www.gwfathom.com.