To drive significant change in a company with 12,000 employees and annual revenues of $8.7 billion requires a radical shift in the company’s market. With energy market deregulation looming, Entergy faces the immediate challenge of integrating its diverse information systems to transmit, distribute and provide energy for 2.5 million customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas. Currently a leading provider of wholesale energy marketing and trading services, the New Orleans-based global energy company intends to provide retail services once its market deregulates.
As Entergy approaches these changes, many of its operations will depend on the successful integration of information systems for several areas, including accounting, billing, customer service and a settlement system that must handle massive amounts of data and produce results in a timely manner.
Once deregulation becomes the rule of the land for Entergy, it will rely on e-business provider LODESTAR to provide a billing engine that can integrate with a myriad of systems across the energy market. Entergy already uses LODESTAR to analyze and feed information into its billing and rate system, as well as create revenue figures for reporting purposes. Entergy also supports several field activities with LODESTAR solutions, such as LODEMAP to help larger energy customers manage their own energy consumption and usage.
Entergy has used some LODESTAR solutions for nearly 15 years to help create rates, bill customers, assess energy available, and create forecasted scenarios to anticipate energy needs and rates. This technology allows Entergy to integrate with other systems inside and outside the company. LODESTAR’s data manager provides a repository to store customer-specific information, as well as other demographic information, that Entergy applies to functions outside of billing.
Under deregulation, customer bills will show separate rates for transmission, distribution and meter billing. Once it is functioning as a retailer, Entergy will manage meter data and send or receive information electronically to other suppliers. Entergy’s information system will need to separate data received from several different energy suppliers. Also, suppliers and retailers will need to share information regarding customer enrollment, customer switching, meter reading data and other pieces of the deregulated puzzle.
On one occasion, Entergy information officers needed to develop-in a short period of time-an industrial billing system to bill their large customers in a timely manner, a task that would have been difficult without LODESTAR’s multi-dimensional sampling package. Using Mainframe Lodestar, the company was able to develop cost-of-service information before a formal cost-of-service package became available and affordable.
John Taylor, Entergy’s senior staff analyst, calls LODESTAR an industry leader in solutions for the utility business. “They have the strongest load research and billing packages available,” he said. “The rate engine can handle any perceivable rate no matter the complexity.
“When deregulation hits, LODESTAR products will provide us with the flexibility to do our billing activities,” Taylor said.