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

Fortnightly Magazine - October 1 1999

the transaction. Specifically ¼ the Utility would compare certain customer data in the EDI transaction to customer data in its Customer Information System to verify the identity of the account to be processed."

What about shortcuts. ¼

"It has been suggested that ¼ EDI enrollment transactions could be validated based on a comparison of two data elements in the transaction, whereas all subsequent transactions could be validated using only one data element.

"But some utility systems can't adapt.¼

"In New York, Utilities differ in their use of unique customer account identifiers. ¼ [F]or many it may be necessary to use more than one data element for validation. [M]any utilities believe that ¼ relying on a single element may not be adequate. ¼

"ESCO/Marketers, on the other hand, believe that it would be preferable to standardize the validation process across all Utilities. ¼ They believe the use of a single data element should be sufficient for all post-enrollment transactions."

So you've got to have four different standards.

¼"Based on these concerns, the Utilities agreed to minimize the data elements to be used such that all transactions would be validated in one of four ways. ¼"

1. Acct. No. + Check Digit (if any).

[Con Ed; Niagara Mohawk; Orange & Rockland; National Fuel Gas]

2. Acct. No., Check DIGIT (if any) + Meter Number(s).

[Central Hudson; New York State Elec. & Gas]

3. Acct. No., Check Digit (if any) + Bldg. No. (service address).

[KeySpan Energy/Brooklyn Union]

4. ESCO/Marketer Acct. No. + Delivery Pt. No.

[Rochester Gas & Elec.]

Source: Excerpts from Report of the New York EDI Collaborative, pp. 19-20, Electronic Data Interchange Proceeding, Case 98-M-0667, June 30, 1999 (N.Y.P.S.C.)

Acknowledging a Change in Service

A reply to each data drop? Why marketers and utilities disagree.

What marketers think. ¼

"In this new world of restructuring and EDI, mistakes will occur. ¼

"[For instance], a Drop/Change Request is sent by the Utility to the wrong ESCO/Marketer, or a Drop/Change Request is sent by the Utility that includes incorrect information regarding the customer's name or account number, thus making it difficult or impossible for the ESCO/Marketer to properly identify the customer.

"Thus, the ESCO/Marketers believe that the drop/change response from the ESCO/Marketer to the Utility either confirming [and] accepting the drop, or rejecting it, is critical for (1) "customer care" purposes; (2) efficiency of operations; and (3) accurate and timely information flow between the Utilities and the ESCO/Marketers. ¼

"Although the mistake may have to be addressed via a followup telephone call, both the Utility and ESCO/Marketer will be given an immediate "heads-up" in the EDI transaction ¼ the drop/change response adds an extra layer of efficiency ¼ [u]se of the drop response has the potential to minimize instances in which customers are switched erroneously. ¼ Requiring the parties to verify all correspondence relating directly to the customer makes good business sense.

"The costs associated with upfront development and ongoing transmissions are small relative to the benefits gained ¼ [and] ¼ will be much less than if developed as an after-the-fact retrofit.

What utilities