PCS is excited to announce a major new feature in conjunction with interfacing with an AMI system. PCS has developed a process to import the end of day reading (kWh, kW and other information) for every meter that has been captured in the AMI solution. This provides many benefits for PCS applications including displaying daily readings and usage by many modules. This feature can also be used during the billing process to access billing determinants. In many cases, this will save the utility many hours during the billing process.
The information below outlines how this process works, benefits to the utility and ultimately the utility customer. The process starts with the AMI vendor creating an external file every day which contains data for every meter. This is commonly available from all AMI vendors. The file can be automatically transferred and automatically imported into the billing database. Read on for additional details.
In the past, PCS has relied on the AMI vendor to provide all the information necessary to properly bill a customer. Over recent years, for many reasons, the method of accessing bulk data in the AMI system such as billing readings, month and day readings, and even monthly demand is very slow and, in some cases, times out.
Some of the issues relate to the fact the AMI system is hosted at a remote site. The result is when PCS needs multiple readings or bulk reading data, PCS uses a MultiSpeak call to request information from the AMI system. Many times, getting the data is slow and requires multiple calls to gather the information required.
PCS can eliminate the struggles working with the AMI vendor by pulling the required information needed to do billing functions and customer usage presentations into the billing system. The primary goal of this functionality is to gather the end of day meter reading information and import into the billing application. Most AMI providers have the ability to automatically export the required data (such as the daily reading, daily kWh and daily high kW) on a daily basis. This, however, does not include what is commonly called interval readings which includes hourly or 15-minute increments.
In most cases, PCS could greatly reduce the time it takes to pull in billing determinants and not rely on the AMI provider. This also benefits the time it takes displaying usage information including monthly and daily usage. This functionality can be used by any utility where there is an AMI system in place.
Description of Functionality
This feature will pull in the daily (end of day) reading file from the AMI vendor. This includes (example only) meter#, location or service address, end of day kWh reading, kWh usage (if available), daily high kW, date/time kW was reached, date of record created and any additional information that can be easily gathered from the AMI vendor. This may include kVar and other registers. The primary goal is for importing and creating billing determinants.
- Every day create a file from the AMI system and export in a format readable by PCS. The data included in the file includes a record for every meter in the AMI system and any appropriate meter and register data. Creating the file is the responsibility of the AMI vendor or utility staff knowledgeable of the AMI system. Hopefully, this would be accomplished by an automated process in the AMI system.
- Once the file is created, automatically transfer the file from the AMI system to either an SFTP site or an area accessible by PCS.
- PCS has an automated routine that either recognizes the file is available or searches for the file based on the time of day. The routine reads the exported file and imports the records into a database file in the Connect billing database. This program has to match the format of the AMI vendor and may need to be configured and tested because PCS cannot guarantee the formats will be the same from one AMI vendor to another. PCS will assist in the configuration and testing.
- PCS will either use existing MultiSpeak calls or other methods to access the imported data, analyze and report to customer service or the billing process.
- PCS does not believe the additional records stored in the billing database will significantly increase the size of the billing database.
As stated above, the primary purpose is to store reading registers for creating billing determinants in the billing process. PCS’ current experience with the new process is that it will reduce the importing of billing readings by several hours if not days. Also, this file will be used to gather data for usage reporting in the customer service modules, the customer portal and mobile customer access.
What does it cost?
This functionality has been developed as part of the MultiSpeak AMI interface. With this addition, there are 14 features that are included in the interface. If your utility has licensed the MultiSpeak AMI interface, then there is no license cost or additional maintenance and support. If your utility has not licensed this interface, your PCS Business Developer can provide a quote.
Either way, the utility will incur the cost for professional services to install. For budget purposes, PCS is proposing a 30-hour request card, based on 2019 rates, this would be $4,710. As stated above, these hours may vary based on the information available from the AMI vendor and the ability to import into the billing system.
Please note this is not required by PCS but has been developed as an enhancement to the AMI interface, your billing process, and the speed to be able to create some of the customer usage displays.
One final note – this does not replace the need or the functionality of a Meter Data Management (MDM) system. While an MDM system also imports daily usage data, an MDM goes beyond by importing interval data, events, and possibly voltage. An MDM also can provide validation, estimating and editing (VEE) functionality and a host of anomaly reporting and analysis.
If you feel this feature will benefit your utility, contact your PCS Business Developer or Billing Support person to discuss today.