EDMpro.com – the stairstep to value
Several years ago, Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) managers were receiving an increasing number of requests from customers for energy data management (EDM) services. Many of the utility’s national account customers were experiencing energy management challenges, resulting in escalating headaches related to sorting through mountains of utility bills in search of information.
Among customer concerns expressed were needs to:
- Manage utility costs across multiple facilities
- Easily obtain data needed for decisions
- Ensure correct and accurate utility invoices
- Get bills paid in a timely, cost-effective manner
- Ensure the most cost-effective utility rates applied to facilities
- Uncover efficiency opportunities
- Exploit the benefits of deregulation.
FPL officials decided that meeting these needs would require the introduction of a new energy data management service. Based on its past experience launching solid customer-driven products and services, FPL decided to develop a service with a full range of capabilities to meet every EDM customer requirement.
While the new service was initially intended for local commercial and industrial customers, the development team soon realised that EDM services were best suited to multi-site and national accounts. In autumn 1998 EDMpro.com was launched by FPL Energy Services, FPL’s retail energy marketing division.
CUSTOMISED SOLUTIONS LOWER CUSTOMER COSTS
In January 1999, FPL Energy Services started delivering EDM service to its first customer, Jo-Ann Stores Inc, a national fabric and craft retailer. Since then numerous other customers have signed contracts, including Bell Atlantic, the US Army Reserve Command and Bealls department stores.
At the core of the company’s EDM-pro.com service is the ‘stairstep of value’. EDMpro.com adds value in each step of the process. The offering is flexible and can be customised to meet unique needs.
While most energy data management companies provide bill payment services and reports, EDMpro.com goes several steps further to include high-level, comprehensive analysis of utility data at multiple locations. Such depth of service yields powerful, practical information that can help businesses reduce utility, operational and administrative costs. It also offers invaluable information for obtaining the most competitive rates in deregulated utility markets.
When a business signs on for EDMpro.com, it gets FPL Energy Services’ expertise in the utility market along with the most advanced systems for analysing energy data. What differentiates this service from other EDM systems is the experience of utility industry professionals, proven software, and a number of peripheral software tools to address each customer’s energy needs. This adds up to significant savings; EDMpro.com customers realised more than a 200% return on investment during 1999.
Another differentiating characteristic is EDMpro.com’s emphasis on personal attention. Each EDMpro.com customer is assigned a personal utility consultant who serves as the main contact for identifying customer needs and co-ordinating the efforts of teams of professionals specialising in such areas as bill payment and auditing, data collection and data analysis.
BILL PROCESSING AND PAYMENT CENTRE
EDMpro.com’s bill processing and payment centre makes sure bills are paid – on time and accurately – by receiving EDI or hard copy utility bill data and auditing it against a 50-point checklist. Skilled utility billing analysts review billing exceptions to ensure all bills are correct.
Reports and graphs prepared by this group are invaluable for evaluating the energy efficiency of facilities, comparing year-to-date performance against an annual budget, and comparing costs among facilities or against industry averages. This group makes these data and reports available to customers around the clock through EDMpro.com’s password-protected Internet web site.
While billing data includes information about a business’s energy usage (kWh) and peak demand, it doesn’t say anything about the time of day this demand was reached or the operations and equipment that contributed to the peak. To do that, FPL Energy Services accesses load profile meters that show the precise amount of energy used by a facility in hourly intervals throughout the day.
This level of detail is key to finding opportunities to reduce energy use, switch to a better utility rate or shift operations in order to take advantage of money-saving rate alternatives. The information is critical to businesses buying energy in deregulated markets, where hourly load profile data is a cornerstone in negotiating the best commodity deal.
Once FPL Energy Services has the load profile for a representative sample of a customer’s sites, EDMpro.com’s data analysis group combines this information with bill processing data, weather data, hours of operation and an understanding of energy-consuming equipment in each location to get a total picture of energy use. Analysts then start looking for better rate options and operational and equipment changes that will reduce customer energy costs.
The data analysis group includes energy analysts who specialise in modelling the effect that shifting operations, selecting a different rate structure or using high-efficiency equipment or controls will have on each location’s load profiles and the impact these changes will have on utility bills. The group also includes utility account specialists who handle day-to-day utility interactions such as negotiating deposits and arranging utility services for openings, closings and transfers. Finally, EDMpro.com’s energy managers report their findings on an information summary which the customer accesses through his web browser.
The energy managers are the conduits for this mass of information. By understanding their clients’ energy and utility use and taking advantage of the in-depth analysis provided through EDMpro.com, they are able to help customers save money and take full advantage of the opportunities afforded by a changing energy market.