Since 2018 Opinion Dynamics has been evaluating and conducting customer research for Consolidated Edison’s (Con Edison’s) Innovative Pricing Pilots. Using both opt-in and opt-out recruitment strategies, these pilots are testing seven experimental dynamic rates for residential and small commercial customers. All rates include a time-varying demand (kW) base rate, with some incorporating time-of-use (kWh) or subscription payment models. This study assesses the relative effectiveness of recruitment strategy and rate design in terms of load impacts, participation levels and retention, and key customer performance indicators (awareness, understanding, behavior change, satisfaction).

Opinion Dynamics began research and consulting on pilot design planning in 2018. Our team is currently evaluating the pilot via a longitudinal study of treatment and control customers as the pilot continues to be implemented through 2023.

Drawing on Opinion Dynamics’ expertise evaluating pilots, we conducted formative qualitative research to inform successful pilot design strategies which Con Edison was able to use to ensure the Innovative Pricing Pilot was designed in accordance with best practices and informed by accurate and timely data.

We are utilizing a mixed-methods approach for this evaluation and have directed ongoing customer survey research to collect near-real time feedback at key stages of the pilot’s lifecycle (beginning of rate, first summer on rate, etc.). To date, we have evaluated the customer experience with recruitment efforts which revealed key customer preferences for Con Edison to consider after the pilot stage.

Initial insights from this study suggest that although a default (opt-out) recruitment approach may net more customers on the new rate, an opt-in approach is likely to produce a more informed, engaged, and satisfied customer base. Although the default (opt-out) methodology is more successful in terms of achieving recruitment goals, customers may fail to understand the fundamentals of subscription rates. Additionally, early findings indicate that demand rates are a viable solution for residential load shifting and shedding without sacrificing customer satisfaction. Opinion Dynamics is excited to provide Con Edison with continued updates throughout the pilot program and final results in 2023.