Briefs

Contract Awards and Extensions

Alliant Energy of Madison, Wis., recently awarded a contract to Open Systems International Inc. (OSI) for implementation of a distribution SCADA system at Alliant’s Cedar Rapids, Iowa, distribution operations center.

Atlanta Gas Light Co. announced a long-term agreement with IMServ, a unit of Invensys, to provide AMR technology to read more than 1.3 million gas meters in Georgia. NexusData, partnering with IMServ, created the hardware and technology to transmit collected meter data to a central data location center. IMServ will manage data received from those transmitters.

In July, SchlumbergerSema announced two separate contracts to provide information technology services to utilities. SchlumbergerSema executed a 15-year agreement with Wisconsin Electric-Wisconsin Gas to provide real-time energy consumption data and advanced information analysis services by connecting 650,000 of the utility’s electric and gas customers to Schlumber- gerSema’s fixed wireless network. A similar contract also was signed with Jacksonville Electric Authority (JEA).

Arizona Public Service (APS) will develop a mobile dispatch and reporting application that will give field technicians real-time access to reported equipment trouble information. The system will use wireless data networks, mobile computers and ClientSoft’s ClientBuilder middleware technology.

Alliances, Mergers and Acquisitions

Montreal-based Olameter has purchased EPCOR Utilities Inc.’s meter operations in Ontario. Under the transaction, Olameter will assume meter verification activities, field meter maintenance and meter reading services to a number of municipalities in Ontario.

Powertec Industries, a company known for Web-based automated metering and testing systems for electric substations, has become part of Enertec. Enertec has combined Powertec with its existing substation automation business into the Powertec Group of Enertec.

Hunt Technologies and CES International have formed an alliance that will integrate CES’s outage management system (OMS) with Hunt’s AMR system. The OMS and AMR systems will work together to automate a utility’s approach to handling power outages and dispatching repair crews. The first customer of the allied vendors is Crow Wing Power, a cooperative based in Brainerd, Minn.

Personnel Changes and Promotions

Former FERC chairman Curt L. Hebert has joined Entergy Corp. as executive vice president of external affairs. Hebert will have responsibility for Entergy’s system and federal government affairs, system regulatory affairs, communications, and corporate contribution functions. He will report to Entergy’s CEO J. Wayne Leonard. Pat Wood III has succeeded Hebert as FERC chairman.

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Briefs

PJM looks to Powerweb

PJM Technologies Inc., a wholly owned unregulated subsidiary of PJM Interconnection LLC, announced its entry into a commercial arrangement with Powerweb Technologies Inc. for the distribution of a comprehensive suite of Internet-based load response and distributed generation solutions. Omni-Link (www.omni-link.net), the enabling Internet technology, will provide regional transmission organizations (RTOs), independent system operators (ISOs) and energy suppliers with the ability to offer their customers energy and reliability based solutions. The product suite offered will range in functionality from wireless price discovery systems to automated transaction processing for curtailment or distributed generation control. These solutions could enable RTOs and ISOs to control automated reliability notification, price discovery and energy curtailment transactions.

GMP wants faster response to trouble calls

Green Mountain Power Corp. (GMP) is proposing modest changes in its union contract that would result in faster customer service response to trouble calls that occur in the late afternoon and early evening hours. In return for the new work rules, the company is proposing to its unionized employees a three-year contract that includes wage increases, expanded vacation time and a change in the company’s retirement system that would lower the age for full retirement. The new work rules would give GMP the ability to offer its line crews a voluntary four-day/10 hour-per-day work week. GMP would also like to establish two night trouble crews, which would let GMP move towards guaranteed delivery of service and response to customer trouble calls without calling off-duty crews for problems that occur after 3 p.m.

Avista Advantage grows like a weed

Avista Corp. subsidiary Avista Advantage, a provider of Internet-based facility management, information services and bill management services through its ACIS product, topped $1.1 billion in facility bills managed during the year 2000, almost five times the previous year’s total of $227 million. It has also achieved a nearly 400 percent increase in the quantity of bills managed over 1999. The number of bills managed by Avista Advantage for its clients reached 100,000 last month, up from 36,000 in December 1999. The value of those bills surpassed $131 million for the month of December, up from $42 million the year before.

Chartwell finds customers the tops with utilities

Chartwell’s Guide to E-business in the Energy Industry 2000 focuses on the business-to-customer side of e-commerce transactions and Internet-based services and reveals that customer relationship management is one of the industry’s biggest concerns. The recently released Chartwell study provides information on how many utilities and energy retailers are now using the Web to sell energy to their customers and provide usage and billing data. The study also reveals that the Internet as another customer contact portal is gaining popularity-nearly 18 percent of energy companies offer online sign-up for service and another 27 percent plan this option. Chartwell also logs this past year as the first time a small percentage of utilities provided Web-enabled customer service via live chat with representatives.

STAR project shines for Con Edison

Consolidated Edison Company of New York Inc. recently implemented the Centricity operations resource management software suite from Minneapolis-based CES International as part of its System Trouble Analysis and Response (STAR) trouble-call management project. STAR is built on a CES InterSys-based real-time operations model. STAR includes a model maintenance integration with a Con Edison proprietary MicroStation based feeder-mapping application, as well as five separate SCADA systems. STAR accepts customer trouble calls from Con Edison’s mainframe based customer information system and performs outage analysis. The initial STAR roll out supports Con Edison’s trouble-call-response program for its almost 800,000 customers in Westchester County and the Bronx. STAR provides the Westchester/Bronx electric control center operators access to real-time graphical views of the distribution network, customer complaints and crews through integration with multiple business information systems such as SCADA, GIS and CIS.

SAP CRM receives kudos

SAP, a provider of e-business software solutions, announced that its customer relationship management (CRM) platform, mySAP.com, received a strong evaluation in a recent report by AMR Research Inc., an industry analyst firm. The report added mySAP CRM to its short list of e-business relationship management products. In its evaluation “SAP CRM is Finally Ready for Your Short List,” AMR Research determined that mySAP CRM provides “the right approach” to e-business relationship management. In addition, the report accentuates the growing abilities of mySAP CRM as part of a broad e-business platform capable of meeting increasing demands for new technologies and applications, such as mobile computing.