Since the spring of 2013, Tennessee’s Benton County Electric System has been taking full advantage of the information management benefits offered by its investment in Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Serving about 10,500 customers, BCES deployed in conjunction with its advanced metering system the ElectSolve meter and operational data management solution from IPKeys Power Partners.
Through its marketing alliance with Hometown Connections, Inc., IPKeys Power Partners offers community-owned utilities a centralized platform for data management, analysis, and reporting. IPKeys’ Meter & Operational Data Management (MODM) solution, ElectSolve™, gives the client the ability to view accurate, near real-time energy usage in a clear, concise, and useful manner. This MODM platform delivers utility-focused analytics to provide actionable insight to solve unique utility business problems.
“We didn’t want to just read meters,” said Raymond Barnes, General Manager, BCES. “We wanted to collect and analyze all the information we could in order to make the right management and engineering decisions. We chose the ElectSolve™ solution because the company’s experience inside and outside of the Tennessee Valley matched our strategic vision for how to use our AMI system.”
The ElectSolve™ solution lies at the center of BCES’s meter data, customer billing, and AMI systems. In addition to generating billing data, it drives a wide variety of utility activities, including:
- Provisioning of new meters and taking them out of service
- MyUsage® Prepay and usage monitoring web portal and mobile app, through which customers monitor their hourly/daily usage.
- CSRs managing connects, disconnects and on-request reads all day every day
- Meter technicians accessing troubleshooting tools prior to going on site and then monitoring remotely if customers adopt suggested changes
- Engineering Services connect to live datasets to model our system and costs as required.
- Capacity Reports are used to monitor customer class contributions for every hour. BCES knows exactly how much the industrial, commercial or residential class contributed in X hour.
- Provisioning Reports verify or identify meter setup problems
- Gap Reports show when our AMI system meters are not communicating well
- Virtual Meters for Aggregated Data
Scott Owens, Assistant General Manager, noted, “Our unique commercial billing procedure requires all power costs to be directly passed through to the consumer. We must measure a customer’s particular contribution to our system peaks in one hour of each month. Without ElectSolve™ Power Billing module processing the AMI’s interval data and the company’s strive for accuracy and attention to detail, this would not be possible.”
Owens added, “Without aggregation and the ability to manipulate this big data, we would be limited with the raw daily readings you would get from an AMI system. The data aggregation of our AMI interval data by the IPKeys ElectSolve™ solution is key to the way we utilize these systems—not only for billing, but for cost of service studies, engineering analyses, rate design, and much more. We have been praised by several professional service organizations that they have never been able to use actual data to model rates or system analyses to this level of granular detail. Combining our AMI system with the ElectSolve™ capabilities ensures we adhere to our philosophy of using cost causation rates that are fair and equitable for our customers.”
Currently, there is a variety of MODM products on the market, but to BCES, the IPKeys ElectSolve™product and staff have proven their capabilities. “The accuracy of the ElectSolve™ VEE data estimator has been proven and accepted in both regulated and deregulated energy markets and is considered a standard for meter data estimation ,” Raymond Barnes said. “With all the integrated systems that today’s customer’s demand, we could not operate without the ElectSolve™ MODM and the integration provided between all our systems. It takes all the vendors working together to ensure that each system can communicate with the others.”
Scott Owens stated, “The IPKeys team is always extremely professional. As with any migration or upgrade, there are inevitable hiccups. But IPKeys personnel are fast to respond, understand our business requirements, and recognize the critical nature of any issues during billing times, especially power billing.”
Owens continued, “The amount of raw data flowing into our system of 10,500 meters is hard to grasp. More than 1.1 million pieces of raw AMI information get processed nightly into the database system. The ElectSolve™ system handles it all with ease. The information available goes way beyond the typical billing requirements of today, ensuring any future requirement can be met. Plus, IPKeys employees actively monitor our systems, respond quickly when a problem arises. IPKeys software and personnel are central to our ability to maximize our investment in AMI to the benefit of our employees and most importantly, our customers.”
For More Information
Scott W. Owens
Assistant General Manager
Benton County Electric System
Jennice Holtom, PMP
VP Customer Operations
IPKeys Power Partners