One hallmark of a superior retail energy billing system is its flexibility in managing the customer’s Utility meter reads. How will the usage be input into the system? What types of reads are supported for import and invoice automation – daily, monthly, calendar months, off-calendar cycles, EDI 867 files? How are different units of measure reconciled? How is historical usage tracked for forecasting? What about transportation costs? And how do you know a meter read’s current billed status?
Like the brightest kid in class, Safari has all the right answers.
Safari Imports for Utility Meter Reads
Every energy marketer knows that moving Utility meter reads from the source to the marketer’s system of record can be a challenge. There seems to be no end of variations among utilities methods for supplying meter read data. Old-school Internet Bulletin Boards, downloadable Excel or CSV files, e-mailed text files—you name it, we’ve seen it. And regardless of the source format, there’s bound to be extraneous column data, variations in unit of measure, corrected reads, and other unique attributes that make a “one size fits all” approach to managing Utility meter reads unrealistic.
Enter Safari standard meter read imports, custom utility-based imports, and translation protocols.
- Safari’s standard meter read imports provide a “template” format and built-in data validation that make it easy to move usage data into Safari from any source.
- For complex Utility files, EnSite has developed numerous custom import protocols that automatically translate the Utility file into valid Safari meter read data.
All EnSite clients utilize Safari’s automated usage import and translation capabilities, but the system also supports manual entry of Utility-reported usage.
Types of Utility Meter Reads and Cycles Supported
We could write a book on the variations in utility meter reads and meter read data supported by EnSite Safari Suite. Whether it’s a Rate Class assignment riding in on an 867MU EDI file, an off-calendar read that needs to be invoiced for fixed monthly volumes, or a cancel/rebill read sequence spanning multiple months, Safari can—and does—deliver.
Safari Billing Cycles come in two general types, one type that batches meter reads for invoicing based on the Begin/End dates for the metered usage, and another that batches usage for invoicing based on the Import Date for the meter read. For irregular off-calendar read cycles, as well as for daily mass-market EDI usage record imports (867MU files), the Import Date-based billing cycle type provides for daily invoice batching for reads received on that day, regardless of the service period for the read.
For both natural gas and electricity, Safari meter reads can be input as “generic” units, with the customer’s assigned Unit of Measure (e.g., kwh or MMBTU) determining the unit of measure for imported units. During invoicing the units can be translated again, via internal Safari conversion factors, to the commodity exhibit’s unit of measure. In this way, the Safari user can track usage in different measures for different customers while ensuring all invoiced units, company-wide, are the same unit of measure.
Forecasting and deal quoting require reliable historical usage as a starting point, and Safari is on it. Safari can import historical usage for new customers (EDI or non-EDI), and builds new historical usage each month. For straight calendar month meter reads, the usage data simply moves to the corresponding historical month. For off-calendar cycles, Safari automatically calculates a daily usage value for each day, and assigns each day’s historical usage to the correct calendar month. This “calendarization” process is performed for manual meter read entry and for automated imports.
Pass Through Utility Charges
Safari simplifies management of Utility transportation fees, which can be imported along with the read or input for the meter read after import (for example, when the Utility invoice is received). Whether or not to actually invoice transport dollars recorded with the meter read is indicated at the customer’s commodity exhibit. For payables tracking, Safari supports input of unlimited Utility charge detail at the meter read, as well as batching/posting of meter read transport dollars as payable records ready to remit, which are thereafter available in detailed AP reports.
Know the Billed Status of Reads – for Customers or Company
At Safari’s interface for the customer’s meter reads, each read is updated for billed status throughout the invoicing process. A checkbox indicates if the read has been invoiced, and a Status indicator provides the status of the invoice on which the read appears (e.g., Billed/Posted). Additionally, Safari provides standard reports listing unbilled or billed reads for specified groups of customers or the company as a whole.
You can learn more about how Safari Suite helps energy marketers exercise control over every aspect of their business and their data – visit the Safari Suite home page