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The EDI Solution: Help of Hindrance in Billing and Metering?

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

agree on all the proposed practices. There will be sticky points, he predicts.

"Who gets paid first? Let's say the marketer is doing the billing for itself and the commodity sale, as well as the delivery. Does it pay the utility its share when it gets paid or does it pay in any event?" he asks.

In addition, there have been conflicts where business practices differ from one state to another.

"New Jersey requires a 'wet' signature from a customer to switch. The customer has to actually sign something. It can't be done by phone. has resulted in Green Mountain Energy saying OK, we are not going to play in New Jersey," McGrath says.

"We would hope in time [national uniform business practices] would work backwards within the states that have made decisions."

McGrath says the EEI effort will start with the ASC X12 umbrella of EDI standards. EEI will submit a set of draft practices by mid-September. The draft practices will not have gone through a consensus process by that point, he adds.

Richard Stavros is the senior editor at Public Utilities Fortnightly.

Metering: Just Tip of the Iceberg

National standards are needed for many areas of the utilities industry.

Enrollment and Customer Switching - Involves the initial switch from the utility to a competitive supplier, a switch from one supplier to another, and a switch from a competitive supplier to the default provider.

Access to Customer Information - The process by which suppliers obtain historical usage information and other applicable customer data.

Customer Billing - The process, including the interface between the utility and the competitive supplier, necessary to bill customers.

Metering - Includes the standards for meters; installation, testing and maintenance standards for meters; transfer of meter reading data; and meter reading performance requirements.

Load Profiles and Retail Electric Settlements - The process of estimating hourly usage for customers without hourly meters in order to determine each competitive supplier's share of the total energy delivered in any given hour.

Licensing and Creditworthiness - The license, including creditworthiness and technical fitness provisions, necessary to qualify a competitive supplier to provide services in a state.Compliance and Audit Provisions - The market needs a swift and predictable audit and dispute resolution process.

Supplier Agreements - A contract between the delivery utility and the competitive supplier that establishes the terms and conditions of the commercial relationship.

Standard Electronic Transactions - The standard data set and format for exchanging information between the competitive supplier and the utility.

Source: Coalition for Uniform Business Rules, white paper

Validating Customer Enrollment

Which data fields to check? It's easier said than done.

The problem in a nutshell.¼

"When exchanging data electronically, two parties are involved in the process - a sender and a receiver. In an EDI environment the receiving party validates the data contained in the transaction.

"For example, when a Utility receives a request to enroll a customer with a specific ESCO/Marketer TS814 [Transaction Set 814, used for enrollments, account status changes, etc.], the Utility must have in place a process for determining the validity of