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13th Annual Utility Billing and Payment Transformation

Event Description and Agenda:

Customer billing now plays a vital role in the utility smart grid transformation. It has evolved from a basic model, where utilities gathered energy consumption data every other month to produce a paper invoice sent via snail mail, to a dynamic model in which energy consumption is tracked as frequently as every 5 minutes. Other factors, such as deregulation and the growing integration of new sources of renewable energy like wind and solar, add to the complexity of the utility/customer relationship. Customers are no longer captive ratepayers locked into a static meter-to-cash process; they have choices. This is shifting the focus of traditional billing and customer information systems to a more customer-centric approach that includes strong focus on loyalty.

In addition to supporting the smart grid transformation, customer billing is also the utilities' "ground zero" in the battle to offset rising energy costs and related debt-recovery issues. To alleviate this burden, utilities can improve both cash flow and the customer experience by adapting to the changing communication needs of customers. Today's customers have access to more communication channels than ever. To ensure a two-way conversation, utility providers need to make sure they are able to efficiently interact with customers across all channels, including email, SMS and mobile. New ways to grow customer relationships include using highly-targeted proactive messaging and personalized web and e-billing portals, which ensure that each customer's communication channel preferences are covered.

This conference will bring together experts from utilities and vendors who interact daily with the billing process and payment systems. They will draw upon their experience to address issues surrounding advances in billing technology, payment processing, outsourcing, CIS transformation, complex billing and mobile applications. They will also address issues specific to the massive amounts of data from smart meters and how to inform, educate, and encourage customer loyalty in these rapidly changing times. Conference attendees will learn best practices, keep up with the latest developments, and network with industry peers.


Monday, January 26, 2015

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:30 - 8:45 a.m. :: Opening Remarks

8:45 - 9:15 a.m. :: Welcome/Keynote Address from ComEd

On behalf of ComEd a unit of Chicago-based Exelon Corporation one of the nation's largest electric & gas utility holding companies and the local utility for the city of Chicago, Chuck Walls (Vice President of Customer Financial Operations) will welcome his power industry colleagues and give an overview of how ComEd addresses these important topic areas of Billing and Payments for utilities.

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: New Application: Video Billing from AT&T

In this session, utilities will learn about a new advanced billing application from AT&T called Video Bill. The Video Bill helps new U-Verse TV, high speed internet and voice customers understand their first bill. The company sends customers a link to a personal video bill that details all charges (including partial month charges) on the statement. The video is available for 30 days and it can be viewed as many times as necessary. Conference attendees will hear about the drivers for doing this video bill and the results/feedback from customers.

Usha K. Gupta, Director - Customer Insights and Standards, AT&T

10:00 - 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

Session I: Best Practices — Utility Case Studies

This group of case studies will set the context, themes, and participatory discussion tone for the conference. It will showcase key best practices and lessons learned from several utilities on issues pertaining to enhanced billing and payment processes.

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: Xcel Energy - Solar Initiatives

Xcel Energy is the original founding member of SolarTAC—the largest outdoor solar testing facility in the United States, it is among the top-ten U.S. utilities for the amount of solar power on its systems, and to date the utility has 10 rate initiatives underway in support of solar. Solar energy is one of the fastest growing energy influencers in the utility industry. Residential customers are continuing to increase the rate of installation of solar panels on their homes as prices go down — more than 50 percent over the past 15 years — and commercial customers continue looking for alternative energies as well as replace systems that will no longer comply with EPA regulations (i.e. old generators). This presentation will cover the major initiatives impacting the billing, customer receivables, and cash areas of the organization. It will review the complexities of these initiatives that involve eight state commissions in the company footprint, the multifaceted system enhancements, the business process complexities, the contentions between systems and business process, and what it's all going to take to make distributed solar a success within the organization and for Xcel Energy overall.

Renee Wagner, Director of Billing and Payments, Xcel Energy

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: The Why's and How's of Mobile Payments - Lessons Learned

The customer demand for payment options and flexibility continues to grow for utilities. This segment will discuss how Ameren partnered with a third-party to build its own mobile site and APP. The mobile functionality went beyond just payments. There were synergies and unique challenges along the path of design and implementation. This presentation will cover the Ameren requirements for the project, obstacles encountered, actions taken, and results.

Steven Bott, Manager - Treasury Technology Services, Ameren Services

12:00 - 12:45 p.m. :: Keys to Successful Billing and Payment Programs

This is a case study presentation of Portland General Electric's billing and payment programs. PGE has earned the highest JD Power Customer Satisfaction scores in the country for investor owned utilities, and the utility's billing and payment programs contribute to those high scores. This presentation will provide an overview of Portland General's programs and processes, and will include sharing of lessons learned.

Wes Friesen, Manager of Billing, Credit & Special Attention Operations, Portland General Electric

12:45 - 1:45 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. :: New Enhancements in Net Metering Billing

As net metering has flourished in the northeastern U.S., both NU companies' billing systems have faced challenges in developing a customer-friendly bill that includes all the requirements associated with these rates. The company has two home grown systems: one is a DB2 mainframe (web-based front end), and the other is a decades-old mainframe with a Cobol IMS database. This presentation will share information on the requirements of net metering billing in three states, including the sharing of credits. The development and implementation of the system enhancements, as well as the bills, will be discussed.

Lisa Carloni, Director of Billing & Remittance Processing, Northeast Utilities

2:30 - 3:15 p.m. :: Billing & Payment Trends and Behaviors: Pre and Post Durbin

With the Durbin legislation enacted years ago and other recent factors, you will be presented with recent consumer payment trends. Some related payment trends and associated costs will likely surprise you. This session will discuss recent industry insights and data as they relate to the impact of Durbin and other enlightening factors.

Randy Vyskocil, Vice President, Western Union

3:15 - 3:45 p.m. :: Networking Break

Session II: What Have You Done For Me Lately?

The focus of these presentations is to learn more about what has been done to save money and improve customer service.

3:45 - 5:00 p.m. :: Panel Discussion

In this panel discussion, utilities and other organizations will discuss what is being done to reduce cost and improve customer service levels. They will address the question of "what have you done for me lately" from the following perspectives:

  • Making the C-Suite happy
  • Making the end customer happy
  • Working closely with vendors


Jon Brock, President, Desert Sky Group LLC


Steven Bott, Manager -Treasury Technology Services, Ameren Services

Arvina Barnes, National Account Executive, Western Union

Rachel Cooper, Senior Manager - Market Research Services, E Source

Brad Sileo, VP - Business Development, iFactor

Renee Wagner, Director of Billing and Payments, Xcel Energy

Wes Friesen, Manager of Billing, Credit & Special Attention Operations, Portland General Electric

5:00 - 6:00 p.m. :: Networking Reception

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

8:00 - 8:30 a.m. :: Continental Breakfast

Session II: What Have You Done For Me Lately? (Continued)

8:30 - 9:15 a.m. :: The Next Generation of Billing and Payment: Meeting Customers Where They Are

The information age has dramatically changed customer expectations around how, when and where they want to engage. They seek fast and easy transactions through their preferred channels and devices. Utilities have learned that billing and payment is no exception. A utility's ability to collect on customer bills requires offering multi-channel payment options such as: budget billing, mobile payments and remote location payment options for all types of customers through mobile phones, laptops, kiosks and more. During this session, the current and emerging landscape will be discussed along with what it means for utilities. SMUD will share details of its current billing and payment overhaul that includes hiring a new billing and payment vendor and adding new options and functionality including: loan portfolio management, increased self-service functionality, loan origination software and more. The company will discuss the biggest challenges as it prepares for the road ahead and how it is mitigating potential risks.

Frankie McDermott, Chief Customer Officer, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

Vanessa Edmonds, President, RIM Solutions, LLC

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: So You've Got a New CIS - Now What?

This session will focus on utilities that have recently replaced their CIS in the North American utility market. Did the new CIS live up to expectations? Was the business case met, exceeded, or missed? Are there ongoing initiatives to reduce costs and improve consumer engagement/satisfaction? These questions will be addressed in this interactive presentation by Desert Sky Group.

Jon Brock, President, Desert Sky Group LLC

10:00 - 10:30 a.m. :: Networking Break

Session III: Dispel The Myths — The Truth About Customer Behavior

This group of sessions will discuss the truths behind customer behavior. Utilities often make decisions on a billing and payment system because of what they think is true. For example,"customers pay in person because they don't have checking accounts or are in collections."

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: Serving Utility Customers: Billing and Payment Transactions and Beyond!

Are utilities serving their customers the way they want to be served and maximizing customer satisfaction? In general, consumer expectations are on the rise - it's not just about reliability and satisfactory customer service any more. More than ever, consumers are seeking added value, personal connection and products and services that align with their lifestyles—all of which go beyond the traditional energy experience. A customer journey that starts with paying a bill might continue on the utility's website to learn about rate changes, but could end with the customer enrolling in an energy-efficiency program. This session will address how utilities can use customers' preferences for interacting with their energy provider as cross-serving opportunities that generate highly satisfied, loyal customers.

Rachel Cooper, Senior Manager - Market Research Services, E Source

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: The Truth about Customer Behavior at PacifiCorp

Have you ever heard the saying "you don't know what it feels like until you walk a mile in someone else's shoes?" In this session, we will not be talking about exercise or shoes, but rather how making assumptions about what customers want and need from their service providers is a sure way to provide a program that falls short of customer's expectations and not achieve the desired results. I will discuss PacifiCorp's strategy on how we engage customers and use this information to make decisions related to our billing and payment programs.

Heather Qualey, Manager, Bill Payment and Presentment, PacifiCorp - a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns

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