The future of personalised, easy energy: Neel Gulhar on the energy retail revolution

Published: 15 March 2024

Neel Gulhar

Chief Product Officer


Neel Gulhar | Speaker

In advance of Future of Utilities Energy Transition Summit, we caught up with Neel Gulhar, Kaluza’s Chief Product Officer to explore the future of personalised customer experience and its role in the energy transition.

What is the biggest challenge for European energy providers in the next few years?

Today’s energy customers expect more. For years, their relationship with their provider has been passive and transactional, but the digitisation of other services, like banking, and the pains of the energy crisis have created demand for faster easier experiences. Customers want a clear understanding of what they’re spending and how they can reduce their bills, without having to pick up the phone.

Meanwhile, we’re seeing the number of electric vehicles, heat pimps and solar panels increase by over 300% across many European markets compared to 2022. These connected assets are changing the very foundations of our networks and how customer are interacting with energy. As a result, utilities are grappling with the complexities of an increasingly distributed energy system while at the same time being urged to deliver greater simplicity to customers.

Solving this dilemma will be make of break for utilities in the next few years. So , while reducing overall costs to serve remains a critical hygiene factor for these businesses, the question of ‘how can we train, grow and nurture high-value customers?‘ is the real conundrum facing retail execs today.


How do you think energy providers can combat this challenge?

The answer is all about connecting data and responding to it with agility. While the proliferation of DERs is adding new levels of operational complexity and demand, every device presents a new opportunity to optimise energy flows and create unique value for customers.

In order to seize this opportunity though, retailers need to assimilate the right data and combine this with the customers’ energy account data. This is no mean feat, it takes expertise and the right foundations. Without a clear platform and data strategy, it will be harder to compete with new, nimble players, including those from outside the sector – just look at Tesla.

With a rich stream of data connecting every part of the system, retailers can then react and rapidly launch propositions based on the unique profiling of every household. This is where agility becomes the name of the game, For retailers to maintain a competitive edge in a changing world, its essential that new product and services can be brought to market in a few short weeks, not months.


How do you see Kaulza’s role in the changing energy landscape?

We’re a platform orchestrating the optimisation of energy, and therefore creation of value, across the entire system – bringing together data from generation, transmission, distribution, market pricing and, crucially, from behind the meter. By automating core operations we can free up utilities to focus on innovating new propositions around low-carbon products and services that guide their customers through the transition.

A key part of the puzzle for us is connecting energy companies with automakers. As EV adoption picks up, we see a huge opportunity to simplify the charging experience for customers without them having to download seven different apps and track their costs in three different places. If we want customers to make these considerable investments in clean tech then we have to make their lives easier and more rewarding.

By building partnerships and integrations with auto leaders, we’re able to ensure that customers have a single, 360 view of everything to do with their EV and its charging. We’re excited to be launching new propositions with some of the industry’s biggest names, including Volvo, who we’ll be launching both one-way and bidirectional smart charging solutions with later this year, together with OVO.


What do you think will be the biggest industry trend over the next decade?

Decarbonising every home in the market is a marathon to be won over years. New EV plans and solar PV installations are just the beginning, if we’re really focusing on making high-value customer sticky, then we need to build value over time, enabling assets to talk to each other and optimise on a whole-household and whole-system level.

We’re about to see energy get far more personal, with customer segmentation becoming more granular and fluid as people approach key decisions around their energy in different ways. For example, someone renting a high-rise apartment needs to be nurtured in a completely different way to a family living in a suburban house with a large roof and parking space for two EVs. So utilities need to be asking themselves: ‘Does our platform identify lifetime value for each and every customer so we can tailor our services optimally?’.

Even by 2030 the equation for energy will be fundamentally change. I think propositions are going to give customers more than just a fixed price for their energy and will instead offer fully managed and optimised bundles of services – much like the change we’ve witnessed in television over the past decade.

For example, we used to have only a few TV channels, you could watch what was on, when it was on. Well look at the entertainment space now – recording became easier, then automations with features like ‘series link’ were brought out, giving flexibility to TV markets – producers could make content available when they wanted to, and consumers could watch it when it suited them. Then these media companies turned to other services, new channels, new packages. Branching out to telco and broadband – much like many energy companies have tried – offering different hardware options, as well as reselling the content of others – e.g. packing Netflix into a single subscription price.

But while this has been happening in the entertainment space, energy has been much slower, with customers predominantly still just taking electricity and gas metered products.

This future of smart, personalised bundling is where I see the industry heading and I think it’s an extremely exciting prospect for energy providers in the years to come.

Neel Gulhar | Speaker

Neel Gulhar, Chief Product Officer, Kaluza

Neel Gulhar is Kaluza’s Chief Product Officer and is responsible for leading the productization of the business’ pioneering SaaS solutions. Neel has over twenty years’ experience in product development, B2B marketing and utility platforms. He has a particular interest and depth in the burgeoning demand response market and decarbonising global energy needs. Previous to Kaluza, Neel was Vice President of Product at Oracle and Senior Director of Product Marketing at Opower, where he helped lead the high-growth SaaS company to IPO and acquisition. Neel has extensive knowledge of the utility sector, having spent over a decade working for US majors Exelon and Baltimore Gas & Electric.

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Sponsored by Kaluza

Kaluza is an energy software company powering he future of energy. From revolutionising builling to smart electric vehicles charging, Kaluza’s technology is empowering some of the biggest energy suppliers to better serve millions of customers. Its real-time cloud platform transforms supplier operations, reducing cost to serve and boosting customer engagement, Powered by Kaluza, suppliers can invest in innovating for tomorrow’s customers and drive decarbonisation with smart, low carbon technologies that not only reduce energy bills, but lay the foundations for a more flexible energy system.

Kaluza is a B Corp-certified business with over 450 employees across seven global hubs.

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