South Texas Electric Co-op makes it easier for distributors to compete

NURSERY, Texas, May 8, 2003 — Ever since the State of Texas opened its electricity markets to competition, many electric distribution co-ops in the state have been anxious to opt in.

What stopped them, however, were the bills. More specifically, it was their inability to create customer bills that met Electric Reliability Council of Texas standards.

“Most municipalities and electric co-ops use customer billing software that’s been custom-designed for their individual markets,” explains Paul Kluba, Chief Operating Officer of Daffron & Associates, Inc.

To compete in the open market, however, they need be able to interface with the statewide system that electronically processes customer transactions. “So they had two basic choices,” says Kluba. “They could upgrade their billing systems � which would take a lot of work, a lot of re-learning and as long as a year to complete.”

Or, says Kluba, they could find an outside source that was ERCOT-ready and could handle their billing services for them. “The only problem was,” he says, “there haven’t been any vendors that met those criteria.”

But South Texas Electric Cooperative, a generation and transmission cooperative, is now offering ERCOT-ready billing services to distribution co-ops.

To make that possible, South Texas Electric purchased Daffron’s newest customer billing software, CIS V50, and worked with Daffron to create the databases and complete the testing needed to meet ERCOT system requirements. Daffron’s CIS V50 is the first to be tested and approved for use on the open electricity market in Texas under municipal and cooperative requirements.

“South Texas Electric has used Daffron’s accounting systems to run its generation and transmission business for years,” explains Mike Packard, Assistant General Manager of the co-op. “By adding Daffron’s customer information billing system, we’re now equipped to help our distributors compete in a competitive marketplace.”

“The best part is that no one has to ‘relearn’ a billing system from the beginning,” says Packard. “They can sell their electricity in other competitive markets, and we’ll coordinate the billing for them.”

Two distribution co-ops sign up for the billing service

Nueces Electric Cooperative and San Patricio Electric Cooperative are the first two electric co-ops to “opt in” to the competitive market using South Texas billing services. The two electric co-ops, which serve 20,000 south Texans in 13 counties around Corpus Christi, have successfully completed retail qualification testing with ERCOT and will soon open their service areas to offer electric choice to their member-owners.

Founded in 1976, Daffron & Associates, Inc. is a leading provider of utility Customer Information Systems billing, Financial and Materials Systems. The company’s CIS software is the market leader in Texas for distributor billing. Daffron’s billing systems are used in the U.S. and Canada to bill electric services, home security, water, Internet access, gas, sanitation and wastewater.

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