Did Someone Mention Change?

by Jerry Duvall

The days of steady methodology and planning for low risk are over for the utility industry. As I read, study and attend conferences the more convinced I become that although the future is bright for our industry, change will continue to be a constant. Where will you be buying your electrical service in five or 10 years? Will it be your local utility, a reseller, or Wal-Mart? Talk about a changing environment. One could go to Wal-Mart to buy a window unit air conditioner and sign up for electric power in one shopping trip!

Energy efficiency programs are becoming more innovative and necessary. New energy saving appliances are offering true savings with practical energy payback. Gas condensing water heaters and evaporative condenser air conditioners really work. Installation of smart meters by utilities and the advent of delay timers on appliances will help consumers manage their energy usage. Time of day billing will level out the peak energy usage and will be good for both utilities and their customers.

Businesses too, can make small changes and reap real benefits. How many of us, when staying in a hotel, leave the bathroom light on for safety reasons? Hotels are now installing a new hairdryer with a nightlight and reducing their energy consumption considerably, another example of innovative thinking that produces savings that are real and measurable. Many retailers have installed software to control store lights and temperature from a central location and collect minutely detailed information about their systems, such as the exact temperature in coolers and freezers.

Today’s consumers are tech savvy and expect more than ever before. Utilities are asking customers what kind of electrical generation they prefer to use and the type of plants they want to see built in the future. All of us want non-polluting, clean and safe energy. Can the utility industry keep up with customer demand and what is the customer willing to pay? While coal may be one of the lower cost options, wind power, solar or other new technologies offer more environmentally friendly methods of generation. How does this type of future generation affect the bottom line and shareholder value?

All of these changes and new ways of thinking are great and eventually good for the utility industry, the consumers and the environment, but the implications for the supporting IT systems are enormous. That is why we have CIS Week. We are dedicated to helping utilities plan and manage their way through to this uncharted, ever-changing and exciting future.

Every aspect of CIS Week will surpass prior levels both in quality and quantity. CIS Conference 31 has expanded its offerings in many areas of the meter-to-cash lifecycle. Significant thought has gone into the agenda, particularly in the area of Automated Meter Infrastructure and Meter Data Management. The total count of workshops has expanded to 55.

The CIS Executive Summit will address utility concerns that “keep senior executives up at night.” There will be great discussions surrounding AMI/MDM, customer and employee privacy and compliance, and concepts of the ideal future CIS design, plus a session with noted customer service author Dr. Chip Bell.

CIS Synergy Groups were new and quite popular last year and they will be back again this year.

Significant changes have developed in the CIS College. The CIS College has been approved by the National Association of State Boards of Accountancy as a registered sponsor on the National Registry of CPE Sponsors. Attendees may now receive CPE credits for each of the CIS College courses. Six CIS College courses are offered this year.

CIS Week is the light at the end of the tunnel that will bring many utilities into their own bright future. Registration is now open for CIS Week 2007, May 21-24 at www.cisweek.org or call 903-893-3214.

Jerry Duvall,CEO, CIS Conference Inc.
For more information, please visit www.cisweek.org

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