Conference: Metering, Billing/CRM India
Location: New Delhi, India
Presenter: Kaushik Ghosh
Abstract: Presented by Kaushik Ghosh at Metering, Billing/CRM India

The paper deals with an innovative approach to smart prepayment rolled out in Northern Ireland Electricity in the UK. Prior to the roll out of the current keypad based smart prepayment system, NIE had an installation of around 100,000 magnetic card prepayment system.

Northern Ireland Electricity initiated a trial of the Liberty smart prepay system to replace the existing token based prepayment system. The existing system at that time had high operating costs and was disadvantageous to the fuel poor. NIE carried out a systematic trial covering various user groups with the new smart prepay system. Encouraged by the trial results, NIE decided to roll out the new technology with a green signal from the regulator. The new technology received immediate customer acceptance – so much so – that the system became the metering system of choice for the customers. As more people voluntarily adopted the new prepay system, NIE went on to significantly increase the number of meters from the originally planned roll out quantities covering nearly 30% of all residential customers.

The new smart prepay system from PRI introduced several innovative features making “electricity retail” really a simple task. Electricity purchase was made very easy for customers by means of the Liberty-on-line vending infrastructure, such that customers could buy electricity from the comfort of their homes or through point of sale terminals at grocery stores. The smart prepay system supported step and TOU tariff structures and provisioned for social needs of customers. Not only it made the operation simple, it encouraged energy conservation by customer empowerment. NIE observed over 10% energy saving through households covered by the new prepay system. Customers benefited form the ease of operation, ability to budget and access to information. NIE benefited from reduced debtor days, reduced overhead costs and simple business processes.