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Making the Complex Simple

January 20, 2023

As someone personally invested in Powerley’s mission to create a clean energy future and someone who loves detail; I am constantly monitoring my energy consumption patterns, watching how our behaviors are translating to energy used, making sure our electric vehicles are only charging during off-peak hours, and encouraging others to invest in programs like DTE’s MIGreenPower voluntary renewable program.

I’m also professionally responsible for developing products to achieve their company’s mission, it can be very easy to identify things that I personally would find tremendous value in using; allowing me a different way to drill down into more detail or uncover an insight I’ve been trying to figure out.

Sometimes it’s not about the details.

But the other week, I was meeting with a friend from high school, who doesn’t work in technology, product, energy, or anything remotely related to the field. And as we were catching up, the topic of conversation turned to different technologies we were adopting and using in the home. And as a father of three young boys, free time is at a premium. Like most people, he has many interests, but he doesn’t have the time to custom configure smart home cameras, investigate which is the most energy efficient refrigerator to purchase or bother with tracking how many minutes per day of screen time his son had.

He then uttered a common phrase, that can easily be forgotten: “I wish these products would just make things simple!”

It was a moment of clarity for me, and a strong reminder that just because I might be in the top 1% of users desperate to know every detail about a certain topic, the majority of people don’t share that passion, but still desire to have the same impact. And as a member of the community charged with creating products to help create the clean energy future, we have to constantly remember to make things simple and straightforward for everyday consumers to understand and take action.

Making it easy to save energy.

In October, I attended the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative’s Annual Members Meeting in St. Louis. One of the presentations was on electric rate options, and how to successfully deploy them. Chris Gallo, Senior Planning Analyst at Con Edison was sharing how Con Edison had successfully piloted an innovative rate implementing different types of demand charges, which residential customers have traditionally struggled to figure out. Rather than trying to explain in great detail what “Demand” was, how the rate is setup, and how a customer would be charged, virtually all the communications focused on direct messages explaining what the customers should do to save – spread out energy usage over time with specific things to do (i.e., don’t run the dishwasher until after 8pm or avoid running the air conditioning while cooking dinner).

Then, I reflected on my own experiences and identified another example with my neighbors. As electric vehicles are becoming more widely adopted, several of my neighbors on the block have seen me driving an electric vehicle and decided to make the plunge to electrifying their transportation as well, a great progressive step! Unfortunately, while the electricity provider has many tools and services to help customers that adopt EVs… these customers don’t know where to look. Instead, I walked my neighbors step-by-step through how to change their rate so that they could benefit from cheaper electricity by charging off-peak at night, how to apply for rebates for charging equipment and even where to find a contractor to install the new equipment.

Energy savings are possible for everyone.

At Powerley, we aim to make it possible for all consumers to participate in the journey to create the clean energy future, even if they don’t have the funds to invest in residential generation or electric vehicles, or the time to monitor their energy consumption every minute of the day. With the right tools in place, using the right language and focusing on the simplest action the customer can take, we can make this a possibility for everyone.



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