Home Tags POWERGRID_INTERNATIONAL Volume 5 Issue 5
POWERGRID_INTERNATIONAL Volume 5 Issue 5
Most major electric utilities in North America have made significant investments in supervisory control and data acquisition/energy management system (SCADA/EMS) technology. Utilities have spent millions, in some cases tens of millions, of dollars for fully implemented SCADA/EMS-from system design to implementation to getting all of the many advanced applications up and running.
The demands of an increasingly competitive environment are forcing companies in the utility industry to become more customer-focused than ever before. To market, sell, serve and support today's demanding consumers, utilities need real-time access to information about their customers.
In the 1990s, the Utility Communication Architecture (UCA) came into being as a framework for the utility enterprise's ensemble of communication requirements. It was introduced at a time when utility managers were looking to consolidate communications among their planning, SCADA, metering, protection and control departments.
The need for improved customer service is paramount as utilities strive to become customer-centric business entities. While most customer service enhancement initiatives may focus at first on the utility call center, there is another utility-to-customer communication medium that is more pervasive: the monthly billing statement.
In Grant County, located in central Washington, the local electric company is the Grant County Public Utility District (PUD). The utility operates two large dams on the Columbia River for generating hydroelectric power, which it sells to the county's residents and businesses, as well as to other utility companies in seven western states.
In the name of competition, utilities are scrambling to find ways to satisfy existing customers and attract new ones. In the past two or three years, traditional utilities, as well as new energy service providers have invested billions of dollars in new call center and billing technologies, attempting to improve customer service. Many have created Web sites to make it easier for their customers to pay bills and gather information.
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