Generating $500 Million in Energy Savings

Opower has motivated consumers to save enough energy to power every household in Salt Lake City and St. Louis for a year.


Opower’s mission is to motivate everyone on Earth to save energy. The Virginia-based company’s pioneering approach – a white-label platform that pairs behavioral science with Cloudera-powered Big Data analytics – engages utilities customers with a consumer engagement platform that presents relevant insights into household energy use through informative dashboards, alerts, incentives, and household comparisons. The information delivered generates heightened awareness and incentivizes consumers to reduce energy consumption, which saves money and reduces the impact on our environment.

“We chose Cloudera because of their understanding of Hadoop and HBase – and they were willing to engage with us on the kinds of problems that we were solving. They are an excellent partner both in keeping the systems going and delivering new technology on top of HBase. As we continue to scale, we know we can rely on Cloudera to help us understand how to grow – the impact on our cluster, how we need to provision, and what configurations need to be tweaked to accommodate that additional scale”

Vice President of Technology and Infrastructure, Opower

Use cases for Big Data in the utilities sector take a variety of forms – including grid optimization and production optimization. For Opower, the value of Big Data in the utility space is to help providers understand how their customers use energy, and to engage those customers with insights that empower them to change their behaviors, reduce their utility bills, and save energy.

Use Case

Key components of Opower’s enterprise data hub architecture include CDH and HBase. Apache Hive serves as Opower’s data warehouse. The Cloudera-based solution delivers numerous improvements to Opower’s infrastructure and capabilities – including processing speed and efficiency, and the ability to easily pull data in parallel from multiple sources.

HBase serves as a highly scalable data store that is built on top of Hadoop and offers fast, random read/write access to users and applications. Raw energy consumption data is batched regularly and imported into HBase, analytics are performed, and the results are stored there. Immediate consumers of the data stored in HBase include

  • > Web front ends that directly forward queries from end users
  • > Other internal processes, for example, that generate customer emails or paper mailings

“HBase is the means by which we are able to deliver our insights at scale, in real time, to any user,” says Eric Chang, Opower’s technical lead for data services. Opower manages its Hadoop cluster through Cloudera Manager.

“Cloudera Manager provides a lot of tools that enable us to know exactly what the cluster is doing at a given time,” says Tim Luo, a software engineer on the Opower data services team. The tool allows Opower’s team to respond to alerts quickly, manage and tweak configurations, restart servers, and ensure that overall cluster health is good.

Impact: More than $500 Million Saved

Placing the impact of Opower’s customer engagement efforts in terms of real numbers, the company has helped its utility partners save energy consumers more than $500 million in utility bills – and generated nearly three terawatt hours in energy savings. That’s enough energy to power every household in Salt Lake City and St. Louis for an entire year.