Employee Spotlight Series: Allison Diefenbach, Services Specialist
by Sarah Wood on Sep 11, 2023
At Energy Toolbase, we pride ourselves on having the most up-to-date and accurate rates database, thanks to our in-house rates team. Our Utility Rates Team’s goal is to maintain an extensive, accurate database of solar and energy storage utility rates around the United States and internationally. To date, there are more than 100,000 global rates in our database, all maintained by our rates team. The team makes this possible through “global rate schedules,” which are available to all users, and through “custom rates,” which are customized exclusively for individual customers and found in their unique ETB Developer account. Our Rates Team works closely with our Sales Team and ETB Developer users and is dedicated to answering any rate-related questions and creating user-requested rates. They're experts in what they do.
Allison Diefenbach is Energy Toolbase’s Services Specialist and is based out of Canyon Lake, Texas. Allison has been with Energy Toolbase for almost four years and shares insights on her experience working on the Utility Rates Team, the importance of accurate utility rates for solar and storage project modeling, some exciting frameworks they’re working towards, and how our utility rate offerings set ourselves apart.
Q: What is your role at Energy Toolbase, specifically within the Rates team?
A: On the Rates Team, my role is to understand and analyze rate schedules and the cost of energy. I also ensure this information is converted into the correct structure within the rate in ETB Developer to ensure bill accuracy and potential estimated savings post-solar.
Q: Tell us about your job responsibilities as a Services Specialist.
A: As a Services Specialist, one of my most significant responsibilities is involvement in the meter-specific creation and/or review of the Energy Use Profiles for our Pre-Proposal Service. This includes creating and reviewing a global or custom rate, analyzing, and estimating usage, researching the net metering rules, and correctly configuring this data into ETB Developer. This ensures a user has the most accurate pre-loaded data to work with and can seamlessly go straight to creating a proposal.
Customers looking for a complete analysis can sign up through our Enterprise Services within the ETB Developer platform, where my assignments include, but are not limited to site optimization, creation of the preliminary PV design, and proposal runs utilizing different technologies to maximize bill savings. I’m also tasked with validating and ensuring the accuracy of the rate schedules and metering rules assigned to our upcoming and existing sites within our ETB Monitor platform. I also provide interactive support for developers looking to understand or create their custom rate schedules within the platform.
Q: What is something about the Rates Team that makes it unique?
A: I think what makes the Rates Team so unique is how much we care about what we do and how much we care about the people we work with. Our work directly impacts the analysis within the proposal and striving for accuracy is very important to us. We genuinely care about the work that we produce! Many members of the Rates Team work remotely, and some of us are remote completely (I'm one of them!). To have the ability to work closely and develop and maintain relationships with the peers on your team through a computer screen and keyboard is not as easily achievable as people may think! A lot of coordination and communication is involved, especially since our team spans three time zones.
Q: Can you explain the importance of accurate and up-to-date utility rates for solar and energy storage project modeling?
A: Understanding the true value of solar starts with an accurate rate schedule. Its impact is one of the major driving factors in the solar + storage analysis. The cost of energy and demand are important, but there are other factors that change within rates. Some examples include seasons, time-of-use windows, demand ratchets, and the structure of the charge-type components themselves. By applying the most up-to-date version of the rate, you’re ensuring the accuracy in the projection of future billing and estimating future savings, rather than trying to line up bill totals with rates that were in effect from the past.
Q: What are some exciting things you’re working on and working towards on the Rates team?
A: Engineering is almost finished building a new internal net metering framework within the platform. Once this is complete, the Rates Team can add and tie multiple net metering programs to an eligible rate schedule within a utility. This will allow us to be more dynamic with how we track net metering data and how it's stored in ETB Developer and will ultimately be of great help to our users. Once the release is launched, the Rates Team will add these programs as we review utilities in the upcoming months.
Q: What sets Energy Toolbase apart regarding our utility rate offering?
A: I think our three core principles of Accuracy, Objectivity, and Transparency are what come to mind. Not only do we offer the most accurate and up-to-date in-house global rate schedules, but we also have the best customer support. We’re always happy to connect via email, phone call, screen share, or other features to assist customers with various rate, net metering, and platform-related questions!
Q: What has been your favorite project to work on in your time at Energy Toolbase?
A: I would say my favorite project to work on would be the first Enterprise Services opportunity I completed. It was the first time I was able to apply the knowledge and skills I learned as a Rates Team member while having control of creating and designing a project from beginning to end. I really enjoy being able to take on the lead role through this end-to-end process.