Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration. Accordingly, a 'genius' is often merely a talented person who has done all of his or her homework.
- Thomas Edison
Smart Grid Impacts Utility and Energy Service Provider Billing


By Jon T. Brock, President, Desert Sky Group, LLC

February 2, 2012


Utility and energy service provider attendance was sixty-nine percent at the EUCI 10th Annual Billing for Utilities Conference in Houston. How many times have you heard that at an industry conference? Of the forty-five attendees, sixty-nine percent were from a utility or energy service provider in North America. I could not pass up the opportunity to gather updated information when it comes to “smart” functionality surrounding the customer information and billing systems (more commonly referred to as the CIS) in today’s changing marketplace.


This year the majority of the utilities and energy service providers in attendance were associated with the electric commodity. Therefore, the background question posed to the group was “is the smart grid impacting requirements in your CIS?” The attendees broke into four groups and prioritized functionalities and listed new functionality that will impact the CIS as a result of a smart grid reality.


CIS functionality has been an interesting element to track over the years. Approximately five years ago, it was becoming virtually pointless to do a functionality checklist when selecting a new CIS because most bidding vendors would come in with a similar score. Recently with “smart” functionality beginning to creep into the check-lists, utilities must be cautious of separating required functionality from preferred functionality. “Smart” new functionality listed from last year’s conference in Las Vegas included:

· Dynamic pricing

· Smart appliances


· Distributed Generation

· Portals

· Pre-Pay

· Remote Connect/Disconnect

· Data Management & Storage

· Automated Outage Notification

· Real-time Billing (no batch)

· New Communication Channels

· Security


After the four groups in Houston presented back to the larger conference, the functionalities listed from 2011 still remained with a few new additions. New “smart” functionality could be summarized as the following:


  • Analytics
  • Renewables Tax/Carbon Tax
  • Automated Demand Response (example: automated HVAC cycling)
  • In-Home Displays
  • Home Area Network Devices
  • Solar Integration


Sometimes we lose track of what the true functionalities are within the utility in order to deliver superior customer service. I recall all the new gizmos and gadgets the industry was going to deploy with deregulation. In the end, the retailers who were successful were the ones that could get a commodity bill out first, and work on the gizmos and gadgets later. Granted our world is changing as many are implementing smart grid at some level. Getting an accurate, easy to understand bill in front of customers in a variety of media is critical for a successful customer experience.


Jon Brock is President of utility and energy advisor Desert Sky Group, LLC. He can be reached at


Add a Comment

(Enter the numbers shown in the above image)