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Prepay Payoffs: Thanks to easy AMI integration, utilities are seeing big benefits from prepayment programs

Among electric utilities, cash flow is an increasingly common problem. Energy consumers are struggling to cover their service deposits and keep up with their monthly bills, and as a result, utilities are facing more and more bad debt. It’s a situation neither side feels good about.

But a new breed of web-enabled prepayment programs are delivering some much-needed relief.

“While our customers get the benefit of not paying disconnect/reconnect or deposit fees, the cooperative gets the benefit of not having high write-offs,” said Angela Hare, Director of Information Systems of Central Electric Membership Corporation (CEMC) in North Carolina. “It’s been a win‑win all around.”

The power behind prepayment

Of course, the success of a prepayment program depends on being able to seamlessly integrate with an AMI system. Using a flexible, broadly compatible platform like Gridstream™ makes the process simple.
“Because of the interface between the Gridstream system and [our prepayment system], we were able to get our program up and running in a matter of weeks,” said Amy Williams, Billing Administrator of Parke County REMC in
Rockville, IN.

Hare agrees. “We didn’t have any extra investments to make for the most part. All the hardware was in place, all the software was in place; our [AMI network] was already bringing in the readings. We could just build upon what we already had.”

Consumer empowerment

At both Parke County and CEMC, the prepayment programs have had an unexpected benefit –– consumer engagement. Because members are accessing their accounts more often, they’re also learning more about their energy consumption — through data delivered directly from the AMI system.
“With the daily [usage] information that the members are receiving, they are able to change their habits and better conserve the energy,” Williams said.

And that’s a trend that benefits everyone.

Being “Future Ready”

Landis+Gyr is the leader in global energy management. We use our proven experience to help utilities realize the full potential of smart grid –– with solutions that are tailored for today’s needs, but that also anticipate what’s coming. We call this being “Future Ready.”

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