A Utilities 3.0 Customer Journey
To visualize the Utilities 3.0 era, let’s consider what a consumer journey might look like 10 or 15 years from now.
A utilities customer — let’s call him Cameron — has just moved into his new home. In today’s world (Utilities 2.0), assuming that Cameron is in a deregulated energy market like the UK or Australia, he can choose between different local energy suppliers. His company of choice offers him a limited number of generic products (e.g., flat vs. dynamic pricing). Once Cameron indicates his preferences and energy usage, the energy supplier sends him a quote and Cameron signs a contract. During the duration of his contract, Cameron receives a monthly bill for his usage.
In a Utilities 3.0 world, when Cameron moves into a new home, he updates the personal data on his digital wallet, which notifies his active membership-based energy marketplace of his move. Based on his location, past usage and the details of his new home, his energy marketplace’s dApp (decentralized application) shows him personalized offers. When he selects an offer, the dApp sets up a smart contract that enables peer-to-peer energy trading with other active prosumagers (consumers who produce electricity through micro-generation and manage fluctuations through local storage) in the energy marketplace. He can immediately begin purchasing energy. If he has energy generation (for example, solar panels) and/or storage capabilities at his new home, he can also immediately begin selling energy.
Seamlessly integrating with Cameron’s digital wallet, the dApp automatically buys energy based on market prices and demand forecast. The dApp enables Cameron to store energy in his home battery when electricity prices are low, and use or sell that energy when energy prices are high. The dApp’s AI also recommends energy usage optimizations (for example, automatically charging his EV or running his IoT-enabled dishwasher at times of low market prices).
A market-wide DAO (distributed autonomous organization) is responsible for tracking imbalances between the energy consumed from the grid and purchased in the marketplace. Any applicable charges are settled seamlessly through the smart contract. All usage information, financial transactions, certificates and guarantees of energy origin are stored in a secure, decentralized manner using blockchain.
Crucially, at no point does Cameron interact with an intermediary such as an electricity supplier or an energy exchange. He is not bound by a long-term contract, and all transactions are automatically triggered and settled. In deregulated markets, in the most radical future scenarios, the role of the energy supplier/retailer might simply disappear. In regulated markets like in some parts of the United States, where utilities are vertically integrated, retail operations might need to be completely replaced by alternative business models.