Commentary

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    Dec 17, 2003 | Gary Clouser
    Path 15 in California's Silicon Valley has long been infamous as a major bottleneck for electricity transmission linking north and south California. Path 15 is an 83-mile transmission line in the Central Valley. Congestion on that line has been blamed for blackouts and has been the focal point of allegations of market manipulation. Now, finally something is being done.
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    Dec 16, 2003 | Patti Harper-Slaboszewicz
    Utilities have a choice of automation options when it comes to residential meter reading systems. For residential marketing, a utility gains reliable readings on a monthly or daily basis when it selects a basic AMR system. For a utility interested primarily in reducing meter reading costs, eliminating estimated bills and the high bills complaints spawned by those bill estimates, basic AMR will provide those benefits. Utilities may also gain read accuracy and a longer capital equipment lifespan from the new or refurbished meters in the field.
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    Dec 15, 2003 | Harry Debes
    Last month, Harry Debes became president and CEO of leading CIS vendor SPL WorldGroup. Energy Central spoke to him recently about the road ahead for utilities, their customers, and CIS.
  • Dec 09, 2003 | Karen Kirkpatrick
    It's a long road from paper mapping to GIS to automated outage management, but that's where the industry is heading. Geographic information systems (GIS) is essential for accurate mapping and quick updating of the infrastructure, which serves as the foundation for quick outage management response times. The next step is integrating the GIS with the customer information system (CIS) to bring greater efficiencies to both sides of the business.
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    Dec 09, 2003 | Paul Grey
    It is widely acknowledged that the browser user interface (BUI) is established as the gold standard of utility CIS (customer information system) architecture. The days of green screen character interfaces and thick-client graphical user interface (GUI) applications are fading rapidly, superseded by the undeniable strengths of browser technology.
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    Dec 08, 2003 | Denny Sauer
    Vendor-supported software packages have taken over the utility customer care and billing arena. The reason is cost. Vendor packages give you a lot more functions for a lot less money than you'd pay to build them in-house.
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    Dec 04, 2003 | Sharon Allan
    Perhaps you've picked up a utility industry magazine lately and have seen the term 'mesh network' mentioned. You might be wondering why companies are announcing new networks when many different types of networks are already available. If you happen to own a network that doesn't live up to the expectations laid out in your business case, you might wonder if a mesh network is really a marketing ploy to describe in a new manner the 'mush - My Under-performing System Headache' you already have.
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    Dec 02, 2003 | David Saxby
    Utilities provide service to their customers every day, often over the phone. Customers call to buy a product or they have a problem or a bill to pay. And who is first in line to interact with that customer? Who has an opportunity to solidify that customer relationship? The customer service representative (CSR).
  • Dec 01, 2003 | Jocelyn Alfandre
    A largely overlooked tool for improving customer service is through the invoice. If you are looking for new methods to enrich your customer service, you're not alone. In order to stay ahead of the game, you have to be creative.
  • Nov 21, 2003 | Karen Kirkpatrick
    In 1999, Southern Company subsidiary Alabama Power took the first steps in a long-term plan that has lifted the customer contact centers to a new level of customer service and marketing.