Enterprise Rating Engines can be a Strategic Asset for Electric Utilities

April 18, 2020
Blog

Most Utilities have a rating engine within their Customer Information System (CIS) for accurately calculating each customer’s bill based on their monthly electricity usage.  The rating engine, sometimes also referred to as a billing engine, is tightly integrated within the CIS and calculates the monthly bill within the meter to cash cycle.  As the utilities industry experiences massive change, the applications for a rating engine to support processes outside the CIS and outside the meter to cash process are proliferating.  Here are some examples.

Customer Engagement

Improving customer engagement has been a huge focus for utilities in recent years.  Utilities have implemented customer contact preference technologies providing customers the ability to sign up for outage and billing alerts.  Several utilities offer mobile apps for viewing & paying bills as well as displaying usage information.  And many utilities are offering new pricing programs including time-of-use, community solar, and renewable-only electricity plans.

An Enterprise Rating Engine allows utilities to further improve customer engagement by enhancing price transparency.  An Enterprise Rating Engine is a high-speed billing engine capable of calculating revenue-grade bill calculations in real-time and in an ultra-high-speed fashion.    Utilities can augment their customer engagement strategies with an Enterprise Rating Engine and provide the following to their customers:

  • Provide customers with the ability to compare the cost of their historic or projected electricity usage on multiple rate plans (flat vs. timeof-use) via the utility’s myaccountonline or by calling the call center
  • Allow customers to view how their bill will change with rooftop solar panels and community solar on either flat or timeof-use rate plans
  • Allow customers to view how their bill will change with the purchase of an EV, taking into account the EV model, average miles driven per day, and the time of day the customer will charge the EV
  • Enterprise Rating Engines can calculate all customer’s bills nightly, providing customers with the ability to view up to date charges similar to how a bank or credit card app will have up to date charges
  • Provide customers with an optional prepay billing plan
  • Bill alerts based on price vs. only usage
  • Future bill estimates

Enterprise Rating Engines can enhance customer engagement by allowing utilities to advise more specifically and more individually how each customer’s bill will be affected by the many choices that consumers now have regarding electricity.

Rate Design & Marketing

Utilities can also use an Enterprise Rating Engine when designing and marketing new rate plans.  Enterprise Rating Engines have the ability to calculate hundreds of millions of bills in hours.  With this power, utilities can run ‘what-if scenarios’ when developing new rates.  A potential new rate plan, or multiple potential rate plans, can be calculated over the utility’s entire customer base, using each customer’s historic or projected load.  This allows the utility to study how a potential new rate plan will affect each individual customer as well as each class of customer.

When a new rate plan has been selected, the same results can be used for rate education and marketing.  This can be particularly useful when moving to time-of-use rate plans.  Every single customer’s bill can be simulated, based on the individual customer’s load profile, identifying which customers will experience a bill increase, and by how much, and which customers will experience a bill decrease, and by how much.  With this information, the utility can proactively advise customers how their bill is going to change and how much usage the customer should change from peak to off-peak to realize time-of-use rate savings.

Finance

An Enterprise Rating Engine can also be strategic for finance.  With the enterprise rating engine capable of calculating every customer’s bill overnight, unbilled revenue can now be calculated daily, providing a clearer financial picture for the utility finance executives.

With the numerous applications of an Enterprise Rating Engine to improve customer engagement and financial clarity, an Enterprise Rating Engine can be a real and powerful strategic asset.