By Tomasz Piasecki
The model of prepayment sales was originally derived from the specific needs of electricity sellers. The prototype model was based on the prepayment meter equipped with internal contactor, special billing software and hardware generator of codes carrying information about the purchased energy. The codes were entered into the meter manually by means of a keypad.
By Ricardo Vidinich, Antonio Carlos Marques de Araujo and Maxwell Marques de Oliveira
Energy losses are present in all the electricity distributors in Brazil, distinguished only by the scale of the problem in each of the companies and the level of aggressiveness of the distributors’ markets before the introduction of measures to combat losses.
The changes that have been occurring in the management of companies in general are also being felt by the electricity distributors, which from mechanisms provided in the tariff review processes have been prompted to develop an effective management, under penalty of having their profitability weakened and not realising the full value of their investments. Improvement in the efficiency of companies necessarily implies the need to reduce electricity losses, principally to reduce the economic consequences of the high loss rates.
By Quentin Grady
Utilities, however, are not ordinary businesses. They had in the past – and continue to have – unique business processes and relationships with customers that generic business enterprise resource planning (ERP) suites cannot address. Some ERP vendors tried to tailor their generic applications to create a utility model. But it has become increasingly common, well into the 21st century, for utility companies to meet their unique business obligations through the use of utility-specific best-of-breed applications.
By Matt Lecar
By contrast, the energy utility business has seen only a modest pace of technological innovation over the last century. In the case of electric metering, the analogue electromechanical device i n most homes and businesses in North America would be instantly recognisable to Thomas Edison, who filed the first metering patent in 1881 (from that other Menlo Park, in New Jersey).
By Christina Kelly
The purchase was a bold move that helped confirm Itron’s status as the industry leader in solid state electricity metering, automated meter reading and meter data management.
Earlier this year, Itron acquired Actaris Metering Systems, with offices in Brussels and divisional offices throughout the world, producing water, gas, heat and electricity meters and associated systems. The acquisition doubled Itron’s annual revenues, added 6,000 employees to the company, provided nearly 30 additional manufacturing facilities worldwide and elevated Itron to one of the world’s top meter manufacturers, along with the software applications to collect and analyse meter data.
About 20 people attended the hearing to air their complaints, which mostly had to do with what they described as faulty meters and inappropriate back billing. Customers also reported that the utility was often unwilling to listen to their side of the story, and slow to resolve grievances.
By Rainer Bachmaier and Stefan Santer
In Austria, metering of both electricity and gas is defined in law (Austrian Electricity Act¹, Austrian Natural Gas Act²) as the duty of the grid operator. The grid operator is responsible for purchasing, installing, operating, and reading the meters, and reporting the measurement data to the energy suppliers and to the clearing and settlement agency (responsible for balancing market merit order, price formation and settlement of the balancing energy). The costs incurred by metering are covered by the determination of maximum metering charges for each type of metering defined in the use of system charges (Use of System Charges Order 2006³).
By Eric Cheung
In 2006, CLP decided to beef up its efforts in increasing people’s awareness through a series of promotion campaigns. The programme was so successful that not only was there an overwhelming response from the customers, but also the media had prominent coverage focusing on its green value through cutting down paper consumption.
The success of the eBill promotion programme stems from three critical factors: effective communication, alliance with green groups and strong frontline staff support. Moreover, adding to the campaign impetus are incentive offers, such as ‘green’ souvenirs and/or a small electricity rebate.
Nominations are invited for the European Utility Awards for 2007 for excellence in metering, billing and CRM.
The awards are made in the following categories:
- Business Performance Award – to the solution that has demonstrated best performance against a measurable business case
- Customer Excellence Award – to the utility that has introduced an initiative which has had a measurable effect on customer service
- Innovation Award – to the most creative project that has led to innovation and a new view of utility metering, billing or customer relationship management.
Award nominations must be submitted by 3 September 2007.