Coldwater Board Of Public Utilities Chooses MeterSense And CustomerConnect To Streamline Business Processes And Engage High-Volume Consumers In Conservation
The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities (BPU) has chosen MeterSense and CustomerConnect, Harris Utilities’ meter data management (MDM) solution and customer engagement solution (CES), to enhance its engineering, billing and service processes and encourage further consumers involvement in key conservation programs.
MeterSense is an advanced MDM solution that transforms raw smart meter data into valuable business intelligence and enables utilities to improve business process and enhance customer service. CustomerConnect is a web-based data presentment tool that enables consumers to access and interpret their consumption patterns, which helps them to make smarter choices about resource use, reduce their bills and support utility conservation goals.
MeterSense helps interpret a wide array of grid data
Located in southern Michigan, Coldwater BPU delivers water and electric services across 12,500 meters to a population of approximately 10,200 residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) consumers. The utility launched a pilot project to test advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) in January 2012. The project’s aim was twofold. First, to test the capacity of the AMI software to interpret data derived from the polyphase meters used by the utility for its large C&I accounts. Second, to entirely replace its enterprise residential meters with smart meters. Shortly into the project, Coldwater BPU officials judged they needed an MDM application to gather, store and analyze smart meter data derived from the residential AMI, and to extract usage and billing data from the utility’s polyphase meters.
Charles Bauschard, engineering manager with Coldwater BPU, said that once the utility realized an MDM was essential to the successful implementation of its smart metering solution, it temporarily suspended its AMI pilot project.
“Once we understood that we required an MDM solution, we began to develop a list of functions we required from that application,” he said. “On our large C&I accounts, for example, the process of reading meters, reporting billing determinants and inputting data into our customer information system is long and detailed. An MDM that can automate that process and ensure it’s done accurately every time is extremely valuable to us.”
Coldwater BPU chose MeterSense in part because the solution’s rules engine could be configured to manage the influx of data coming from the polyphase meters, and in part because of the solution’s capacity to fully automate billing processes across all meters. The utility also saw value in MeterSense’s potential to enhance its meter reading processes. Coldwater BPU currently reads most of its water and electric meters using automatic meter reading technology. It plans to use MeterSense to fully automate that function and free up field personnel to perform other, more complex tasks. The utility also expects to draw on MeterSense’s native analytics functions to detect grid losses, manage service disconnects and augment its service team’s capacity to respond to end users’ billing questions.
“Harris Utilities’ track record of support was another key benefit for us,” said Bauschard. “We’re not a large utility, so it was important for us to work with a partner that offered hosted services and stood behind small customers such as ourselves.”
With MeterSense in place and expected to go live in the summer, Coldwater BPU expects to resume its AMI pilot project soon.
CustomerConnect to help all end users manage consumption
While Coldwater BPU is eager to realize operational benefits from MeterSense, it is also excited to introduce CustomerConnect to its end users. The utility hopes the solution will create a direct link for consumers between consumption and usage costs, and thereby empower users to change their energy and water usage habits. Specifically, the HomeConnect and BillConnect modules will enable Coldwater residents to access their smart meter data online at any time of the day via mobile or wired devices, and view and pay their bills online. The SiteConnect module will enable Coldwater BPU to offer rich analytic and reporting tools that enable its C&I end users to study consumption patterns and compare their usage to other performers on the grid.
“We want to encourage all our customers to use CustomerConnect to see their interval data and make informed decisions about their energy and water usage,” said Bauschard. “We will also use the application to educate more customers about our local and state-mandated conservation programs.”
MeterSense and CustomerConnect offer benefits to all types of consumers and all sizes of utilities
Norm Daigle, executive vice-president of Harris Utilities SmartWorks—the innovation engine of Harris Utilities that created MeterSense and CustomerConnect—said this implementation demonstrates the usefulness of the two solutions for C&I consumers as well as regular residential accounts.
“Utilities such as Coldwater BPU that manage large commercial and industrial accounts can benefit greatly from MeterSense and CustomerConnect,” he said. “While MeterSense helps utilities service their large C&I accounts more efficiently than ever before, CustomerConnect—and in particular, its SiteConnect module—will help utilities encourage these end users to change their consumption patterns and save money.”
Regardless of utility size, commodity focus or organizational objectives, MeterSense and CustomerConnect offer the potential to realize significant business-process efficiencies and provide new tools to promote conservation.
About Coldwater Board of Public Utilities (BPU)
The Coldwater Board of Public Utilities delivers water and electric services to nearly 10,200 residential, commercial and industrial consumers in southern Michigan. The utility currently provides electricity via more than 6,800 meters and delivers water and wastewater services across 5,000 more. Coldwater BPU has earned a Reliable Public Power Provider recognition from the American Public Power Association for providing the highest degree of reliable and safe electric service. For more information, visit coldwater.org.
About Harris Utilities SmartWorks
SmartWorks is the innovation engine of Harris Utilities. Its portfolio includes two key solutions. The first is MeterSense, a scalable, configurable and powerful meter data management (MDM) solution that quickly manages and intelligently interprets growing volumes of critical smart meter data. The second, CustomerConnect, is a customer engagement solution that gives consumers direct, web-based access to account information and unprecedented insight into resource use, which helps utilities demonstrate the value of, and power behind, their smart infrastructure investments.
For detailed product information, visit metersense.com and custconnect.com.
SOURCE: Coldwater Board of Public Utilities