Before launching the WhyElectrify website, which happened on March 1, there was another question to be asked – why WhyElectrify?
For Hoosier Energy’s Blake Kleaving, Manager Energy Management Solutions, the best way to answer the question was with a question.
“It was really a lack of educational resources for member-consumers to learn about what’s happening in the industry, what’s happening with technology,” he said. “Where do member-consumers go?”
That question nearly two years ago kicked off the process to develop www.whyelectrify.com, an informational site filled with data and information on electricity usage, energy efficiency and beneficial electrification.
The mindset of asking questions helped guide the development each step of the way, spearheaded by a steering committee made up of member co-op representatives.
“From the idea phase, the thinking was why would we need this?” said Colin Mahoney, Marketing and Energy Solutions Specialist at WIN Energy REMC in Vincennes. “The way I looked at it was that there are a lot of places for people to go for information, but not all of them are good. Many of the places you find information are from people trying to sell something to you.
“It’s just better to have a place you can go that’s not trying to sell you something but is trying to educate you instead. That’s really important.”
It was important to each person on that committee, so the focus became maximizing the available information for member-consumers to make decisions.
“With advancements in technology, our members are expanding how they utilize electricity,” said Nick Geswein, Energy Advisor at Harrison REMC. “They need a place to go for unbiased information on how to employ these new energy technologies. One of the most beneficial ways we can help as their trusted energy partner is to provide the facts.”
The WhyElectrify website offers plenty of those with facts on battery storage, microgrids, solar and electric vehicles, not to mention generation types, environmental impact, the role cooperatives play and beneficial electrification.
“At some point, we realized there are a lot of things about the electric grid to educate people on, so it’s best to have a one-stop-shop for people to get actual information,” Mahoney said. “The site shows how electricity gets from the beginning to the end where they’re using it, which is helpful. It’s not just about energy efficiency but what cooperatives do, what Hoosier Energy does and how that all connects every time you flip on the lights.”
That’s really the focus of WhyElectrify, according to Kleaving.
“The member consumer is the focal point,” he said. “It’s state-wide, what’s happening in your community, what’s happening with your utility, not what Hoosier Energy is doing.”
The website at its core offers a two-way street between the consumers and the cooperatives, working hand in hand.
“I’d like to see it be someplace where they go and learn from us instead of going somewhere else to learn,” Mahoney said. “Even if it’s just a small change they’re making that they learned from the site, they can say, ‘My energy company told me to do this, and it made my life better by doing something different.’ They’re learning along with us, and the site directs them right back to us because we’re there to help them. It shows we want to help them and educate them and be the most up-to-date source.”
As it should be.
“We want this to be a member-consumer, member-cooperative based site,” Kleaving said. “We were not focusing on replacing the co-op website. We are providing a supplemental resource.”
The result is a single location – WhyElectrify – for answering further questions.
“The new site is a one-stop-shop for information regarding energy-related topics, current utility program offerings and available rebates,” Geswein said. “With information updated regularly, members in all 18 cooperatives that are part of the Hoosier Energy network will have access to the latest information. This new tool will be an added value to our members.”