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Deadlines Spur Action!

Created 4/10/2014 by Justin Holzgrove
Updated 11/25/2014 by Ben Fowler
247 views • 8 comments
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If you’re a fan of professional sports, or the business side of the NFL in particular, you might enjoy the twitter feed of Andrew Brandt (@adbrandt), former Vice President of the Green Bay Packers and current sports writer specializing in the business of the NFL. Andrew has a quote that gained a lot of attention during the NFL Lockout a few years ago that consistently rings true today, “Deadlines spur action”.  

This phrase seems to apply to a variety of areas, including Americans signing up for health care under the Affordable Care Act- reportedly 7.1 million total, with a tremendous rush near open enrollment period’s deadline at the end of last month.

 

Perhaps a little closer to home, Mason County PUD 3 found that “deadlines spur action” when it comes to ductless heat pumps and commercial lighting, too!

 

On March 31, 2014, Mason 3 followed BPA’s lead by reducing the residential ductless heat pump incentive from $1,500 to $800/$1,200 depending on existing heat source in the home. On October 1, 2013, we began communicating this upcoming change to contractors and customers through several methods over a five month period including utility bill stuffers, billing messages, letters to customers who had inquired about DHPs within the last year, and follow-up phone calls.
 

So, do deadlines spur action?

Take a look for yourself:

 

 You’ll see our ductless heat pump program breakdown:

  • From April 2013 – March 2014, Mason 3 did 319 DHP projects. The previous three years combined, we did 241 total.
  • In the month of March alone we did 107! One. Hundred. Seven. In one month.
  • And, NONE of these were boosted by low income weatherization, bulk orders, or special contractor deals.
Also note that Mason 3 does 100% verification of installations for NW Ductless Heat Pump Installation Best Practices, requires an Altered Service Application through the utility’s service engineering department for all projects, and requires all required Washington State L&I electrical and City/County Mechanical Permits. Needless to say, we’ve been busy!


 

We also had a similar experience in our Commercial Lighting Program and the death of BPA’s Lighting Calculator 2.3, with the official transition to the LC Series 3.

 

Take a look at our program project stats below:

 

 

  • From April 2013 – March 2014 (same time frame as DHPs), Mason 3 did 165 commercial lighting projects. The previous three years combined, we did 145.
  • In the month of March alone, we did 45- which was more than double our previous highest month! 


We’re a small utility of 33,000 customers, and an even smaller department of four conservation staff members, but we accomplished huge things for the people and businesses of Mason County. That being said, we’re all ready for a nice long break. Please note that these (literally) off-the-charts numbers of projects were happening congruently and during high bill season (Mason 3 offers free energy audits to its customers).

Whew!

  
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Comments (8)
Denis DuBois on 04/11/14 on 11:45 AM (Pacific Time)
Particularly interesting because you have so much info about each one. Is there a common trait that characterizes the people or contractors who responded to the newly imposed deadline?
Libby Calnon on 04/11/14 on 12:43 PM (Pacific Time)
What a great result.  Congrats to all of you for your hard work.  

I'd be interested to know which of your communications channels seemed to be most effective in getting the word out. Did you track that?
Justin Holzgrove on 04/11/14 on 12:54 PM (Pacific Time)
Is it fair to say that the common trait is that they are procrastinators?

That might sound a little harsh, but you could consider that we've had both programs running for at least 3 years in pretty much the same capactity, with the same requirements.

Contributing factors:
For ductless heat pumps, we definitely did a heavy advertising push as noted above, but not unlike one we did in June of 2013.
For commercial lighting we had several contractors hit the streets with a few LED products they were interested in moving, which would account for many of those projects.
Justin Holzgrove on 04/11/14 on 02:21 PM (Pacific Time)
We didn't track that in particular, but I would guess that the direct mailing with a message on PUD 3 letterhead detailing the reduced incentive, partnered with a follow-up phone call was probably pretty impactful.

Especially after being peppered with the other advertising/conditioning (billing inserts, billing messages, geo-targeted social media ads/posts) throughout the year.
David Moody on 04/11/14 on 03:25 PM (Pacific Time)
If my math is right that means you put a DHP in about one percent of your members' houses in 1 year with a third of that coming in one month.  Very impressive. 
Justin Holzgrove on 04/11/14 on 04:27 PM (Pacific Time)
Your math is right. Thanks, we have an impressive team.
Libby Calnon on 04/14/14 on 09:27 AM (Pacific Time)
Thanks, Justin.

Did you track the average installed cost? We're averaging about $5,100 for single head systems.
Sarah F. Moore on 04/17/14 on 12:20 PM (Pacific Time)
Some utilities actually use limited time offers to help manage goal achievement and budget spend.
Here's an example:
Utiltiy communicates a "limited time offer" that ends 3-5 months before the end of their funding year.
As the date approaches, the utility can track achivement to goal/budget. If it appears that the sell-though of the offer is not expected to meet the goal, the utility has the opportunity to extend the offer for another month or so. Thereby, possibly doing a better job of managing budget, hitting goal and being perceived as a "nice guy" by their customers. 

Are there any utilities out there who would like to share their approach to this model and it's benefit to your program performance, budget management, etc.?

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