Companies that deliver water, gas, electricity and other services to households and businesses have stepped up their plans to offer e-business services to lock in customers and lock out the competition. According to a new study by Killen & Associates, by year-end 2002, billers will use electronic bill presentment (EBP) to present 27 percent of the bills they issue. Utilities in North America, and increasingly worldwide, will issue bills and provide other customer care services over the Internet. “Globally, utilities lead in repetitive billing, accounting for over 25 percent of all global repetitive bills,” stated Michael Killen, founder and chairman of the market research firm. “There are clear incentives for them to convert repetitive bill payments from the current heavy reliance on paper checks and cash to fully electronic methods. Not the least of these incentives is new competition to their long-held market positions. The CEOs of the utilities are reacting to new realities of the market.”
“Many large electric and gas companies and their chosen suppliers are leading the way,” Killen continued. “Among them are PECO Energy and Con Edison, distributing bills through TransPoint; Boston Edison, using eDocs and CheckFree; Carolina Power & Light and Virginia Power, using CheckFree; and Cinergy, using Princeton eCom.” Mid-tier utilities, desperate for a strategy that will keep them relevant in the new competitive markets, have also turned to EBP. For instance, San Antonio Water & Power has chosen Billserv.com and Kissimmee Utility Authority of Florida picked Derivion.