At BrightRidge, ‘Take A Load Off’ isn’t just a folksy greeting; it’s what thousands of the utility’s customers have been doing, via their water heaters, since 2013.
Eric Egan, chief data officer at BrightRidge, estimates the TALO program saved the Johnson City, TN-based utility more than $236,213 in 2018 and will save it nearly $7 million through 2031.
Reducing cost is “critical as we look to keep costs down for our customers,” said BrightRidge CEO Jeff Dykes.
BrightRidge started the TALO program in earnest in 2014, shortly after finishing deployment of its advanced metering infrastructure. By the end of 2018, nearly 10 percent of BrightRidge’s 66,000-plus residential customers were in TALO.
TALO load-control devices are installed on water heaters in multi-family and single-family residences. The devices activate infrequently for a 2-hour duration during times of peak demand – usually very hot or very cold days. Should a BrightRidge customer need more hot water than what’s stored inside the water heater during a diversion event, that customer can simply push an override button on the TALO device.
At present, Egan said, TALO sheds on average 2.5 to 3 megawatts per diversion event.
“Our peaks are pretty easy to predict – 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. in the winter and 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. in the summer,” Egan said. “We’re almost always going to peak in those 2-hour windows, so the challenge is picking the correct day. In most months, we run two to four load-control events to capture the peak.”
BrightRidge customers who sign up for TALO receive a $40 billing credit as well as free water heater maintenance for elements and thermostats as long as they continue to participate in the program. Egan estimated that of the more than 6,000 devices installed so far, barely two dozen customers have asked to have theirs removed- “and most of those are due to customers changing out their water heaters,” he said.
TALO maintenance is a point of pride at BrightRidge. Egan said the utility averages 10 to 15 maintenance calls per month, with every bit of that work being done by BrightRidge personnel – no contractors. He said installation typically costs about $125 per device (up-front incentive plus labor), but the maintenance cost averages fewer than 25 cents per month, per device.
Egan said BrightRidge does its best to keep the TALO program top-of-mind where its customers are concerned.
“We have all the information on our website,” he said. “We run newspaper and radio ads as well.
“We have 150 to 200 people through our lobby every day, and TALO information is posted there. Anytime a customer sits down with one of our customer-service representatives, that customer is offered the program.”
For more information on TALO and other BrightRidge programs, visit www.brightridge.com or call Energy Services and Marketing at 423.952.5142.