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13th Annual Credit & Collections Conference

Event Description and Agenda:

Utilities face increasing pressure from stakeholders and communities to improve their financial performance and profitability by minimizing write-offs for uncollectible accounts. When it comes to collecting overdue consumer debt, utilities are at a peculiar disadvantage. Utilities can't recover electricity that has already been consumed and their ability to compel payment through sanctions like termination of service is often constrained by consumer protection regulations.

One of the key objectives for utilities is to provide high reliability at affordable prices with the goal of having very satisfied customers. Improving efficiency in the collections area is one way to reduce their cost of doing business, benefits that will ultimately be passed on to their customers through lower prices. Unfortunately, for many utilities, wide swings in performance - dips and subsequent recoveries - or negative benchmarking comparisons to industry peers elevate issues associated with collections to the C-suite internally and sometimes even to earnings press releases. Climate change, energy usage patterns and regulation affect company billing and collections performance, but variations within a state or region demonstrate that operational strategy, policies, process execution and management effectiveness are also key drivers.

EUCI's 13th Annual Credit & Collections conference will provide an overview of utility credit and collections performance and highlight the drivers and challenges of successful collections strategies. Experts from investor owned utilities (IOUs), municipalities and co-ops will share some of the strategies and best practices that have allowed them to significantly improve collections performance. They will also detail how they have organized to manage credit risk and explore customer-focused approaches across residential, commercial, and industrial accounts. Special attention will be paid to the analysis of collection activities and suggestions for the most efficient collection procedures and department organization.


Thursday, June 25, 2015

7:45 - 8:15 a.m. :: Registration and Continental Breakfast

8:15 - 8:25 a.m. :: Welcome Announcements

8:25 - 8:45 a.m. :: Welcome/Keynote Address from ComEd

On behalf of ComEd — a unit of Exelon Corporation, one of the nation's largest electric and gas utility holding companies and the local utility for the city of Chicago — Chuck Walls (Vice President of Customer Revenue Assurance) will welcome his power industry colleagues. Mr. Walls will give a high level overview of credit and collections best practices across the different Exelon operating companies, and address issues related to integration.

Charles Walls, VP Customer Revenue Assurance, Commonwealth Edison (ComEd)


I. Utility Case Studies: How Technology Continues to Improve Collections

8:45 - 9:30 a.m. :: Making Big Data Work for You

This session will reflect on a problem that has plagued the utility industry for more than a century and describes a solution that has made a huge difference on Citizens Energy Group's write off results. Not until the technology developed in the past decade could IT staff find 330,000,000 utility consumer records in one location. This session will provide an interesting insight into how this "Big Data" technique worked for Citizens Energy Group, contrast the before and after implementation results, and spell out the steps Citizens Energy Group took to implement the "Big Data" solution. The presentation will examine the process used at Citizens Energy Group to:

  • Define the root cause of the write-off problem
  • Quantify the problem and the impact on write-off
  • Implement a "Big Data" solution
  • Detail the implementation path and required resources
  • Assess post implementation write-off results

Leon D. Broughton, Director of Billing and Revenue Assurance, Citizens Energy Group

9:30 - 10:15 a.m. :: System Conversions to Improve Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Billing

This session will describe one of the largest transformational projects completed in the history of Pepco Holdings, Inc. and its utilities serving customers in four separate regulatory jurisdictions. SolutionOne is a project that successfully replaced two legacy customer information systems (CIS) with a new state-of-the-art customer relationship management (CRM) and billing system, while consolidating multiple customer care activities. It's been called the most complex system implementation ever undertaken in the utility industry. The presentation will include lessons learned from:

  • Accommodating four regulatory jurisdictions, multiple companies, AMI and register read meters, dynamic pricing programs, deregulation, net energy metering programs and more all in one system
  • Developing Analyze, Design, Build, Test, Deploy and Stabilization phases
  • Establishing guiding principles to streamline the implementation process
  • Go-live experience
  • Conducting cost benefit and realization of smart grid customer benefits
  • Improving customer service and billing for credit and collections

Hallie Reese, Vice President of Customer Care, Pepco Holdings, Inc.

10:15 - 10:45 a.m. :: Networking Break

10:45 - 11:30 a.m. :: Credit Assessment for New and Returning Customers

This segment will examine how Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA) maintains fair customer policies while meeting the account management needs of the utility. The discussion will address the different methods of credit screening and internal credit scoring, as well as the benefits and issues associated with charging deposits. It will also consider how technical advancements at utilities like Online Utility Exchange are affecting advancements in credit policies. And it will look at these credit and collection details:

  • Charging Deposits
    • Does this benefit the utility? What are the savings or costs?
    • What are the ramifications for the customer?
  • Credit Screening Options
    • What are the available options?
    • How do any of these methods benefit the utility and affect the customer?
  • Customer Satisfaction
    • What are the overall positives and negatives for the utility and for the customer?
    • How does the utility keep up with the changing technical advancements?

Angie Gilliam, Supervisor Collections & Cashier Group, Intermountain Rural Electric Association (IREA)

11:30 a.m. - 12:15 p.m. :: Driving Collections and Automated Metering in a Municipally Owned Utility

This session will describe how external relations factors have plagued the CPS's collections processes, and how the city-owned utility was able to overcome and plan for those factors in the past year. The organization has improved its collections by more than $160 million year after year, while focusing greater attention on the customer and providing for more community engagement and residential assistance programs. This session will cover the following topics:

  • The implications of what being the largest U.S. municipally-owned utility means
  • Explain certain external relations factors (City owned and council districts pressures, media relations concerns) that distinguish "muni" from IOU utilities
  • Examine the CPS collection Dunning timeline
  • The CPS collections strategy that ensured collections of over $160 million more each year
  • The CPS Energy 4-year roll out plan of automated metering infrastructure (Smart Meter - AMI)
  • The smart meter opt out procedure due to external relations concerns/pressures

Adrienne S. Alcazar, Director, Field & Payment Services, Customer Accounts & Operations, CPS Energy

12:15 - 1:15 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:15 - 2:00 p.m. :: Moving at Warp Speed to Improve Collections

This session will describe the evolution at the City of Fountain over the past 18 months — where the company has been and where it is now — with regard to lessons learned from improving collections and the changes the utility has implemented. The blueprint will address:

  • ACH - shortening the time to get the money
  • Bad debt ratios - improving ratios
  • Commercial and residential
  • Smart meters - remote connects/disconnects
  • 14 initiatives
  • Webshare

Denise Howell, Customer Service Manager, City of Fountain Utilities

2:00 - 2:45 p.m. :: Maximizing Revenue Returns with Minimal Disconnects

The Las Vegas Valley Water District has made a dramatic shift in its approach to arrears debt. The organization recognized that the data contained within smart metering systems and the insight that the CRM system provided into customer behavior were the key to moving away from delinquent shut offs. Consequently, advancing initiatives around liens and proactive write-off control was moved from an annual budgetary action to a daily business process that is engaged at the front lines. This segment will discuss how adopting a meter-to-cash philosophy has driven several changes allowing the utility to collect more revenue and scarcely roll trucks to disconnect service.

Penny Tootle, Customer Care Manager, Las Vegas Valley Water District

2:45 - 3:15 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:15 - 4:15 p.m. :: Improve your Agency Management Strategy for Optimal Collection Recovery

Learn how DebtNext and Experian partnered to improve utilities' agency management strategies through the use of agency management software, agency scorecards, collection attributes and recovery scores. Through their collaboration and optimization efforts, PECO improved their recovery rates, maximized low-cost collections processes and allowed for a risk-based agency management model.

Maria D. Conway, Performance Assessment Senior Analyst, PECO Energy

Paul Goske, President, DebtNext Software, LLC

Donna Cassidy, Strategic Industry Consultant - Energy, Experian

4:15 - 5:00 p.m. :: Vision of the Future: Vendor Panel Discussion

In this session, a panel of industry vendors will discuss what they see as the critical components and challenges for utilities based on the valuable experience and information obtained through their customers' feedback. This interactive panel will respond to inquiries from the moderator and audience on how technology, agency management and more will continue to improve credit and collections.


Steve Kusic, CEO, National Recovery Agency


Jeff Tuccy, Business Development Manager, Virtuoso Sourcing

Thom Majka, Director of Business Development, DebtNext

Tom Hanson, Strategic Industry Consultant, Experian

Bob Myers, Executive Vice President, Global Connect

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

Friday, June 26, 2015

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

II. Case Studies: CFPB, Journey Mapping, Out-sourcing and Commercial

8:30 - 9:15 a.m. :: A First-Party Collections Case Study: Improving Collection Results and Managing CFPB Risk

With changes to the regulatory environment surrounding the collection of debt, some Utilities are realizing additional success by hiring a vendor to provide First-Party collection services. Contracting with a company for First-Party services can help manage risks associated with new enforcements by the CFPB and compliment the Third-Party Collection services you already use. This presentation will illustrate the results one company achieved through this type of arrangement.

Rob Ayres, Senior Manager, A/P, Treasury, Credit & Collections, Nicor Gas (invited)

Watse Krol, VP of Operations Strategy, Virtuoso Sourcing

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: Journey Mapping for Credit & Collections

Customers can be very emotional when dealing with credit and collections issues, right? In this session, E Source will share eBusiness trends, contact channel and payment method preferences. These insights, along with new Journey Mapping tools and techniques to support customers through their emotional credit and collections journey, can help the business deliver an outcome that supports a positive customer experience while delivering on revenue targets.

Maureen Russolo, Vice President, E Source

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

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: Out-Sourcing Credit and Collections: Costs vs. Benefits Analysis for We Energies

Now more than ever, utilities are focused on reducing costs and improving performance. In an effort to continuously increase efficiency, We Energies recently out-sourced its collection and litigation processes to a third party. This segment will discuss how the utility weighed the pros and cons to reach its decision to out-source, what its results have been to date, and how it achieved effective service level agreements to help manage credit risk within an out-sourced environment.

Sue Bell, Business Process Analyst - Credit & Collections, We Energies

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Creative Methods to Manage Risk More Efficiently

This is a case study of Portland General Electric's Commercial Credit Program business practices and efficiency improvements. This presentation will look at assessing creditworthiness via risk-based reviews, promoting security up-front, and partnering with the customer marketing team on credit-challenged customers. The combined efforts are creative methods to minimize write-offs and manage risk more efficiently.

Tyesha Woods, Commercial Credit Program Manager, Portland General Electric

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns


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