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No. 1 website ranking is nice, but there's work to do

Posted by Rob Klovance

A U.S.-based provider of energy-efficiency tips and other content for utilities across North America has ranked bchydro.com No. 1 among the websites of Canadian utilities.

Our website tied for first place in the E.Source ranking with Ontario's Union Gas, and wound up seventh overall among North American utilities. While we're proud of bchydro.com and pleased we ranked so high, there has been no champagne-soaked celebration, and not one high-five exchanged.

The fact is that we want to be not just the best utility site in Canada, but one of the best of any kind in the nation. And what that really means is being as friendly, valuable and helpful as possible to our residential and business customers.

We also need to better deliver on the aggressive BC Energy Plan goal of B.C. electricity self-sufficiency by 2016 and the longer-term goal of reducing by 50%, through conservation, expected additional electricity demand by 2020.

That 2020 target, in particular, won't be easy, as many British Columbians still feel our mainly clean and renewable hydro-electricity is clean and affordable enough that they don't have to be too concerned about cutting their consumption. Thanks in part to the impact of new and fun electronics on our home energy use, B.C.'s energy demand continues to grow.

How we'll get better

Right now, more than 112,000 British Columbians have joined Team Power Smart and committed to reducing their electricity consumption by 10% or more. But while that's a great start, it's going to take more than that – and more than meeting our Team Power Smart target of 210,000 members by 2010 – to meet that Energy Plan goal.

We are a Crown corporation supported by ratepayers, so don't expect the multimedia wow and glitz you see on some of your favourite websites. What you can expect are some cool, useful new tools and content, including:

  • A home energy planning tool that will give you a better idea of the potential impact individual energy-saving tips will have on your consumption and on your bill;
  • Better, more immediate news about BC Hydro and issues vital to our customers;
  • More exclusive offers, tools and rewards associated with being a Team Power Smart member;
  • More opportunities to share your energy-saving stories and concerns.

In case you missed it...

We regularly get inquiries from other utlilities around North America who like the tools, content and features on bchydro.com. They point to our popular Connected (residential) and Power of Business newsletters, to Team Power Smart's ability to deliver real consumption data to residential customers, to our Green Your Home and Green Your Business sections. And they're impressed by our online outage reporting features.

Watch for an upgrade of news and updates out of our Press Centre, and in particularly from our This Week at BC Hydro section. As newspapers and broadcast media continue to experience cutbacks, we're learning that the public has developed an appetite for more direct-to-the-customer communication. The traditional "press centre" is going to have to change.

So, if your visits to bchydro.com are largely limited to a once-a-month check on your account, you're missing out on a lot of great info. Join Team Power Smart, subscribe to our monthly eNewsletters, and check our homepage for breaking news and conservation features.

We think you'll be pleased with what you see.

Rob Klovance is managing editor of bchydro.com.