Ameren Corporation (Ameren) – the largest electric utility in Missouri and the second largest in Illinois – has numerous market participants in the Midwest ISO (MISO) market. One of the MISO market requirements is that each market participant designates a qualified meter data management agent (MDMA) to provide meter read data to MISO for settlement. The Ameren Services Company provides MDMA services to all of Ameren’s unregulated affiliates, distribution operating companies as well as to 3rd parties. The Transmission Services Business Centre (TSBC) within Ameren is responsible for the MDMA activities.
Beginning in April 2005, the MISO ‘Day 2’ energy markets went into operation. One of the market rules is that each market participant is responsible for submitting aggregated meter data via their designated MDMA to MISO for settlement purposes. Ameren Services Company is thus responsible for profiling and aggregating customer level meter data for approximately 2 million meters. MISO performs at least four settlements for each operating day. Because settlements are performed only on business days, around weekends or holidays, MISO performs settlements for multiple operating days.
The MDMA must effectively shadow how MISO operates by preparing a minimum of four sets of settlement data files for MISO on each business day and more around weekends and holidays. A critical business need is for a single integrated system capable of forecasting, profiling and aggregating meter reads within a tight window of time. Other critical needs included the accurate and fair allocation of UFE, a data model and calculation system that addresses different jurisdictional rules, and a highly flexible software solution that could be quickly modified by internal resources at Ameren without having to leverage the vendor or another 3rd party.
Ameren has been a long-standing LODESTAR customer since the early 1990s, and therefore had first hand knowledge that the company’s proven software would meet all of their requirements. Ameren was further convinced that a LODESTAR solution was the right decision because its software was already running the settlement functions at both MISO and ERCOT.
According to Keith Hock, managing supervisor, transmission services business centre at Ameren, choosing LODESTAR as a partner was advantageous:
“The staff understood both our business needs and budget constraints, and they drafted a proposal that satisfied the two. Also, LODESTAR products stood out because they are flexible both in terms of short deployment times and the ability to make quick changes to the data model. They are fast, and they have the ability to store, retrieve, and manipulate large amounts of data. In short, LODESTAR was the only vendor that we were able to identify that could meet all of the project requirements.”
Ameren required a highly tailored solution. Because of the flexibility of LODESTAR software, the system development time was significantly less than it would have been with alternative systems. Within six months, the solution consisting of the implementation of LODESTAR® Profile & Settlement System™ (LPSS™) and LODESTAR® Transaction Management Hub™ (LTMH™) – both applications of LODESTAR® Customer Choice Suite™ (CCS™) – was up and running.
“The LODESTAR staff and the LODESTAR product suite proved their flexibility in implementing a first-of-a-kind solution for participation in the MISO market. The staff worked diligently and adapted well to the work environment in order to deliver a solution in time for the start of the market.”
Through the flexibility and configurability of the software, Ameren resources modified the solution without assistance from LODESTAR to adjust the UFE calculation to only allocate UFE to profiled meters. Such a change in another software package would typically require vendor support and even an upgrade to a new software version, costing thousands of dollars. Ameren and LODESTAR worked as partners to implement the LODESTAR solution that enabled, and continues to enable, Ameren to cost effectively meet the requirements of an MDMA that serves millions of meters. Says Hock:
“The single best reason why I prefer to do business with LODESTAR is the size of the company. It’s small enough that I can get to know everyone from Chris Hamilos to the folks working the help desk to the individual developers in professional services. However, it’s big enough to respond to my need, whatever they may be, in time to meet my deadlines.”