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Posts from the ‘utility program management’ Category

Energy Efficiency Data Tracking and Reporting Software : DSMTracker

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DSMTracker Utility Data Management

The utility industry is putting quite a bit of emphasis on data management. There is so much data coming from a variety of sources that managing it all is time consuming and expensive. And with many data management solutions, there is no mechanism built in to alleviate the anxiety of inaccurate and incomplete data. It is difficult to be confident that all of the data is accurate for analysis and reporting purposes.

DSMTracker, a demand side data management software tool, cleans up data from the multiple reporting sources, including third party program implementers, by filtering incoming reports through its proprietary exception handler.  The exception handler sits on top of DSMTracker and compares incoming data with defined program business rules, fixed data ranges, duplicates, etc. All incoming data must pass through this filter before being approved for storage and each data type can have its own set of rules for filtering. Any non-compliant data is sent to a queue for personal attention by the program manager.

Imagine the time that can be saved and the peace of mind you’ll have knowing that the stored data is accurate and up to date. DSMTracker makes running your energy program easy by automating data. You get easy to understand reports, with accurate data, in less time.  For more information or to schedule a demo call 877-409-7412.

Utility Customer Management

One acronym that gets tossed around a lot at tradeshows is CRM. Customer Relationship Management is transcendent of any industry because ultimately the best way to communicate with customers is by fully understanding their needs. This is also true of the utility industry. Utilities need to understand their customers in order to provide better DSM programs, help save energy, and ultimately meet regulatory goals. The problem is integrating the CRM system with DSM program management. Using multiple systems can be confusing and complicated. Right now, the majority of utilities use several platforms to manage customers and vendors, process rebates, and track savings and demand.

DSMTracker changes that. Instead of using multiple platforms and software to manage programs, DSMTracker is an all-in-one solution that manages your entire portfolio. Most importantly, it manages customers’ information, including contact information, billing, energy usage, program participation, rebates, etc. Utilities using DSMTracker have a complete 360 degree view of their customers, giving them the ability to segment customers based on their energy usage and offer custom energy rebates. Utilities can engage customers right from DSMTracker and email rebate offers. DSMTracker is also a rebate processing engine. It’s an automated platform that eliminates staffing needs to input and process rebates. It even processes rebate payments.

What Green Team Energy Services really offers utilities is energy efficiency in a box. Utilities get a CRM system that processes rebates and manages DSM programs. This system saves money and improves the customer experience. It really is an all one system that can be customized to fit any utility’s needs.

Managing the Data Chaos

Managers of demand side management (DSM) have quite the task. They have to meet commission goals and improve energy efficiency, while ensuring each program  is cost-effective. In some cases fines are levied by the commission when programs are not meeting targets. Data is the lifeblood of DSM programs and bad data can jeopardize these programs.

The reality is, DSM program managers have to sift through a lot of data. Customer account information and energy consumption, measures libraries with deemed savings or impact algorithms, implementation contractor data, etc. All of this data needs to be managed in one place, but in many cases it is not. For many utilities, all of that data and information is scattered in different sources. When it does come time to report DSM program numbers, it takes time to piecemeal and compile a report.

There are software solutions out there that serve not only as a repository for all program data sources, but to consolidate, manage, and analyze the data as well, feeding them into one system, designed specifically to manage DSM program data. Our flagship software solution, DSMTracker, is the perfect example of a platform that manages large amounts of disparate data in one place. DSMTracker is accurate, consistent, and easy to interpret. Furthermore, on-demand reporting and analytics is helpful during Energy Measure Verification and Evaluations (EM&V). Using the built in analytics and reporting tools, any desired report is right at your fingertips.

Implementation contractor program data is received and managed in the same place DSM programs and portfolios are managed and tracked. Additionally, a robust solution allows for integrating with other internal IT platforms, such as MDM systems, to pull information as needed and improve analysis and reporting. This provides the capability to easily integrate multiple data sets when needed.

Since all of this information is in one place, program managers can accurately see how well the DSM programs are doing and make necessary changes to boost numbers and prevent those hefty fines. Energy rebates can be offered and applications processed, through payment, all within the same platform. The challenge of multiple data points disappears. Plus, all of that data isn’t just available on a laptop. Because DSMTracker is built on Salesforce.com, program information can be accessed on a smartphone and tablet in real time.

Accurate, easy to manage data can make a huge difference for DSM program managers. It makes meeting energy savings goals easier and less costly. Knowing where each DSM program stands at all times, can help them make those adjustments early on, so the programs don’t end up falling short.

Utility Rebate Processing Simplified

As the year wraps up, consumers are looking for those savings and rebates, especially now that the weather has turned colder. Those drafty windows and old appliances are getting the boot, which also means your customers will be taking advantage of energy efficiency rebates. This is good and bad news for utilities because because it will help meet DSM regulations, but bad because your staff will be overloaded manually processing rebates.

DSMTracker is comprehensive platform for DSM programs for utilities. What it does really well is rebate processing. It eliminates inefficiencies, processes rebates, and accurately forecasts savings.

dsmtracker, rebate processing

The process is pretty simple. You setup measures and rebate programs using DSMTracker’s extensive measure library. Once rebates come in (either via paper or electronically), DSMTracker will process the rebates, processes payments, and you acquire the savings.  DSMTracker has a built in payment gateway that allows your staff to process the payments in the same system. It also has built in analytics showing your energy savings. DSMTracker essentially simplifies rebate processing for utilities.

 DSMTracker, Green Team Software, Green Team Energy Services

GTES provides a 60 day free trail. For more information, call 877-409-7412.

Energy Efficiency Program Management Problem Part 2

In our previous post, we discussed the many problems energy program managers face on a day-to-day basis. To recap, the biggest problem is meeting regulations to reduce energy consumption imposed on utilities, who then offer energy efficiency programs to consumers to meet those demands. Ultimately, this creates a lot of data and information that needs to be processed. The problem DSM managers face is the lack of a platform that really is an all-in-one solution.

And now part two of this series. We couldn’t give you a problem without giving you some sort of a solution. It’s the GTES flagship platform built on Salesforce.com, DSMTracker.

DSMTracker_4302013

DSMTracker is a highly configurable, unique set of tools created specifically to manage all aspects of gas and electric utility energy efficiency (EE) programs from initial research to final reports.  The solution is based on standards and out-of-the-box functionality that can accommodate the flexibility needed to respond to ever-changing regulatory demands, revisions, and updates.  The DSMTracker framework of strategies and data modeling for energy efficiency cover government, utility, and private sector demands.

DSMTracker eliminates the need for in-house program development.  Built using cloud computing technology, it enables utility companies to manage all aspects of their EE programs quickly and easily from almost any location – in-house or remotely.  It can be provided as a turnkey solution, with Green Team Energy Services performing the configuration, integration, and customization, or it can be provided as a pre-packaged product with Green Team Energy Services offering consulting, knowledge transfer, and support, with the utility company internal staff performing the implementation tasks.

Following are a few advantages of the DSMTracker solution that help achieve maximum energy savings across all customer groups and sectors:

  • DSMTracker’s out-of-the-box functionality meets a high percentage of the typical utility functionality requirements, reducing time, effort, and, consequently, cost of implementation.
  • DSMTracker’s cloud-based computing reduces the costs associated with acquisition, installation, and support of a server-based solution.
  • DSMTracker supports technology advancements and offers mobile computing delivered over the Internet in an on-demand fashion from almost any location.
  • DSMTracker provides secure Internet access through portals based on user roles and profiles, which can be configured without the involvement of programmers, thus reducing implementation costs.
  • DSMTracker provides open interfaces to integrate with other systems, such as existing customer information systems (CIS).
  • DSMTracker provides capabilities for data storage and manipulation of terabytes of data.
  • DSMTracker provides an optional ability to download customer inventories for market analysis and target marketing for business intelligence purposes.
  • DSMTracker provides extensive call center features.
  • DSMTracker’s phased approach will help identify not only data deficiencies, but improvements needed for workflow processes and data standardization.
  • DSMTracker is user-friendly and easy to learn, whether inputting data, maintaining records, or understanding reports, thus reducing training time and associated costs.
  • For program managers, the DSMTracker solution offers:
  • Integration of programs with Customer Information Systems (to automate eligibility identification)
  • Mechanisms for customer enrollment
  • Customer eligibility verification
  • Measure eligibility
  • Eligibility exception management for reviewing and documenting variance decisions in eligibility criteria
  • Customer notification (rejection, participation appreciation, etc.)
  • Operational alerting when applications need manual intervention
  • Payment processing for review and approval of payments
  • Analytics (operational, executive, and regulatory)

As implementation contracts change over the lifecycle of programs, it is important that program data be consistent, regardless of the source of the data or the company managing the program.  DSMTracker ensures consistency of data in a single, authoritative repository of information, providing operational, executive, and regulatory analytics through on-demand, accurate, and complete reports.  With DSMTracker, program managers have a systematic method for validating the quality of data received from implementation contractors, and the measurement verification and evaluation (MV&E) department can review samples of data to ensure that the business rules are implemented and followed.

Stay tuned for Part 3 of this series, going into more detail about DSMTracker.

Energy Efficiency Program Management Problem Part 1

It’s no secret that utility companies are finding themselves more and more regulated and mandated by federal and state regulatory agencies to generate more and more power with existing or even fewer facilities.  Energy efficiency has become the watchword. On the consumer side, demand for energy grows daily, while government regulations strangle the industry with curtailments in the building of additional production facilities and an increasing number of requirements for cleaner power.

Gas and electric utilities specifically are required to reduce the energy footprint of all their consumers, including residential, small business, commercial, or industrial.  To accomplish this, large amounts of data must be gathered and analyzed. Incentive programs must be carried out, results must be monitored, and reports must be made available to authorities. This all occurs while managing and maintaining the real business of the utility, which is to supply power on demand to customers.

To meet the requirements and goals negotiated and agreed to with the regulatory agencies, utility companies conduct incentive programs to encourage customers to reduce their power demands through such actions as:

  • Elimination of old, power-guzzling appliances and equipment
  • Installation of solar panels, energy-efficient appliances, heat-reflective windows, etc.
  • Use of automated technology-based controls for regulation of heating, cooling, lighting, etc.

Utility companies also often present demand response or energy-saving awareness programs to induce customers to reduce power usage during peak power demand times.  For their cooperation in these programs, customers may receive rebates or other rewards to offset their expenditures.

Research and analysis of current customer equipment, usage, and demographics are required to determine which incentive programs will yield the most effective results.  Based on this research, the utility company and regulatory agency mutually agree on the programs to conduct and the targets or goals for reducing customers’ power consumption.  Marketing programs are then created to advertise and incentivize customers to participate.  Detailed participant data must be gathered, compiled, and monitored before, during, and-after programs are implemented.  These records must be merged with customer information systems (CIS) in order to produce reports that clearly and accurately present the compiled results in a timely manner.

These activities (from initial research to final reporting) have required data entry personnel to fill out numerous spreadsheets, programmers to create customized databases, and, in many cases, manual cross-referencing and checking in order to produce the desired results – a tedious, time-consuming, and costly endeavor that has fallen short of the goals of both the incentive program managers and the regulatory auditors, and which are rarely up-to-date, accurate, or complete.  Add to this the fact that regulations are constantly changing and multiplying, and you compound the need for IT developers, personnel training, additional information storage, and ever more complex, detailed reports.

Obviously, such activities present a substantial cost to the utility companies.  If goals are successfully met, costs can be offset with grants from the regulatory agencies for customer rate increases, which in turn, can increase company profits.  However, if mandates or goals are not met, the utility companies can be charged enormous penalties.  It is really important that utility companies find ways to reduce the costs of these activities and incentive programs and improve their data gathering and reporting capabilities.

This has resulted in the need for sophisticated tracking software that can manage all operational needs for both utilities and their associated energy efficiency implementers.

The solution is an automated system specifically designed for gas and electric utility companies to manage their energy efficiency programs from beginning to end. Stay tuned for Part 2.