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How Grid Modernization is Impacting the Customer Experience

Event Description and Agenda:

Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) has become a "buzz" word in the utility industry over the last several years, and it's being adopted more and more by utilities under pressure to increase operating efficiency and satisfy customer demands. AMI can benefit divisions within utilities ranging from engineering and operations to customer service and billing. AMI provides a utility with a real-time connection to all its customers, conveying actionable information to consumers as well as to utility staff. In addition, a utility can have a better understanding of the quality and distribution of its product, thereby allowing for improvements in service reliability and efficiency. This can lead to improved financial benefits for the utility and improved satisfaction for customers.

In the past, utilities have been incentivized by the regulations and regulators that control the industry to be risk-averse. Yet, in today's digital age, customers expect from their utilities faster, more efficient customer service, as well as increased opportunities to reduce their energy bills. These AMI investments have given utilities an efficient path to incorporate a host of new tools and improve their customer engagement.  As a result, many utilities are upgrading their legacy metering and data-exchange infrastructure to convert this newly-available information capability into meeting modern customer expectations and demand.

This conference will bring together industry and utility experts from across the country to share their expert knowledge, experiences and aspirations regarding the use of AMI. Speakers will discuss specific ways in which AMI is transforming the utility landscape. Attendees will take away additional knowledge and resources required to implement effective solutions within the areas of improving customer engagement for their company, as well as network with industry peers.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

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 Address from Southern California Edison

Southern California Edison (SCE), one of the nation's largest electric utilities and in operation for more than 125 years, was one of the early adopters of AMI. When this project was initiated, it constituted the first major overhaul to the entire SCE metering system since 1949. This opening session will provide an overview of how AMI has enhanced its customers' experience, including:

  • Providing tools for customers to better manage their electric bills
  • Improved responsiveness for service connection
  • Greater flexibility for new rates and programs

Janet Covington, Director - Meter Services, Southern California Edison (SCE)

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: AMI: Slayer of the Death Spiral?

This presentation will examine how AMI deployment can help improve utility performance and customer satisfaction through improved analytics and enhanced offerings that utilities are able to deploy. In terms of customer options, CPS Energy is beginning to look at all the research and impacts to understand what would be best to introduce to customers including:

  • Additional EE/DR offerings such as a pre-pay billing program and critical peak pricing/rebates
  • Pick a bill date

Matthew Croucher, Director - Demand-Side Analytics, CPS Energy

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

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: AMI: Now that I Have It, How Do I Use It?

Utilities that have deployed AMI are eager to leverage new functionality to gain efficiencies and lower operating costs. This presentation will provide an overview of San Diego Gas and Electric's (SDG&E):

  • AMI operations
  • How the utility's smart meter operations team has evolved to mitigate meter issues and support key initiatives
  • Focus on key processes for remote functionality
    • remote connect/disconnect
    • remote meter configuration

Jerry Stewart, Smart Meter Operations Manager, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: Customer Benefits of Smart Meter Deployment

The Illinois Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act authorized a $2.6 billion investment by Commonwealth Edison (ComEd), to upgrade and modernize their electric grid, including the installation of approximately four million smart meters in homes and businesses across northern Illinois.  This move toward grid modernization is a major step in enabling the utility to significantly improve service and reliability, while giving customers more choice and control over their energy use.  ComEd is seeking to deliver customer benefits and improve operational efficiencies associated with AMI meters.  In this session, learn how the Customer Financial Operations team at ComEd is using the functionality from smart meters to deliver customer benefits, improve the customer experience and enhance operational efficiency.

Charles Walls, VP Customer Financial Operations, ComEd

Ronald Torres, Manager, Revenue Protection, ComEd

12:00 - 1:00 p.m. :: Group Luncheon

1:00 - 1:45 p.m. :: Effective Customer Communications Pre, During & Post AMI Implementation

Even amid an intense swirl of customer outcry, media lashing and political scrutiny over the company's service reliability issues, Pepco Holdings, Inc. (PHI), delivered on one of the most successful rollouts of smart meter technology in the country. Communication before, during and after the full-scale deployments in Delaware, Maryland and the District of Columbia was intentionally transparent and aggressive. The results were tremendous: increasing customer favorability towards smart meters, virtually no opposition with low opt-out, participation in dynamic pricing programs that followed, and a boost to overall customer satisfaction.  This segment will assess the communications techniques and tools that contributed to the success of the PHI smart meter customer education program even in the middle of a reputational crisis and why it is widely viewed as a best practice model in the industry.

Michael Herbs, Senior Manager Communications and Advertising, Pepco Holdings, Inc.

1:45 - 2:30 p.m. :: AMI at SMUD: Benefits and Possibilities

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) completed a full-scale smart meter implementation in 2013.  The project has provided many benefits those that were planned in the AMI business case, as well as those that were not identified until after project completion.  SMUD continues to expand on the AMI implementation by developing new initiatives that utilize the smart meter data. This presentation will provide:

  • A brief overview of the project implementation
  • Details on benefits (initiatives, projects and programs) that resulted from the implementation
  • Information on new ideas for expanding the project benefits

Jim Parks, Program Manager - Energy Research and Development, Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD)

2:30 - 3:00 p.m. :: Networking Break

3:00 - 4:00 p.m. :: AMI Policy and Technical Issues - Lessons Learned from the Frontlines

This session will explore key policy and technical issues from several AMI deployments across the country. The opportunities and challenges associated with opt-out programs, interval data ownership, expanded uses of the AMI telecommunications network and others will be discussed using actual implementations. The issues will be examined from the perspectives of the customer, utility and regulator.

Mike Wayman, Director, West Monroe Partners, LLC

4:00 - 5:00 p.m. :: Panel Discussion on AMI

This panel discussion will feature utilities and industry experts discussing what is being done or considered to capitalize on AMI functionality so that everyone benefits from the "C-suite" to the end customer. The panelists will consider these and other topics:

  • Making the "C-suite" happy
  • Making the end customer happy
  • Working closely with vendors
  • Streamlining the process

Matthew Croucher, Director - Demand-Side Analytics, CPS Energy

Denise Howell, Customer Service Manager, City of Fountain (CA) Utilities

Srinivasa R. Venigalla, Electric Systems Director, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA)

Mike Wayman, Director, West Monroe Partners, LLC

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

Friday, January 29, 2016

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

8:30 - 9:15 a.m. :: Unlocking New Customer Experience - A New AMI Enabled World

As utilities have matured in the customer service space, customer engagement opportunities have evolved and AMI has provided new ways to engage. These now often include advanced mobile engagement, energy management solutions, connected homes, new levels of service automation and a more experiential relationship with customers through deeper insights. This session will focus on highlighting some of the most current thinking in the utilities space that will bring customer engagement to a new level, while realizing considerable benefits for utility operations as a whole:

  • Cost savings
  • Internal efficiencies
  • Greater customer engagement
  • Etc.

Greg Stanway, Senior Manager - Customer Strategy & Business Transformation Projects, BC Hydro

9:15 - 10:00 a.m. :: AMI at City of Fountain Utilities:  How to Embrace Change

Fountain (CA) completed a full-scale deployment of AMI electric meters in October 2014. The project encountered several complications, from a ballot initiative to infrastructure opportunities.   This presentation will discuss:

  • Contract analysis
  • Benefits (both planned and unplanned)
  • Personnel demands and changes
  • Billing changes
  • Opt-out program
  • Remote connect/disconnect program
  • Overall lessons learned  

Denise Howell, Customer Service Manager, City of Fountain (CA) Utilities

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

10:30 - 11:15 a.m. :: AMI at the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA)

The Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA), headquartered in Fort Defiance, Arizona, is a multi-service utility for the Navajo Nation. The NTUA serves approximately 40,000 electric customers in a service area covering some 27,000 square miles in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah. This sparse density creates challenges and opportunities in the area of meter reading, and is the basis for the NTUA's Smart Grid Infrastructure Grant award. NTUA has upgraded 100% of its electric meters and is actively upgrading water and gas meters to AMI to get full benefits of the existing AMI network. The tribal utility is currently evaluating methods to allow for more customer integration and access to the information collected from the AMI metering, including, but not limited to:

  • Remote disconnect/re-connect of customers
  • Electronic notices of usage to customers
  • Electronic notice of any change in service (e.g., lack of payment or overpayment)

Srinivasa R. Venigalla, Electric Systems Director, Navajo Tribal Utility Authority (NTUA)

11:15 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. :: An AMI/CX Case Study

This segment will evaluate the impact that an AMI implementation had on customer experience at a Canadian utility during a deployment that was anything but ordinary. Proactive and intentional customer journey mapping, change management and communications strategies were crucial to maintain corporate reputation and ongoing positive customer experience.

Shawn Silzer, Senior Manager, E Source (formerly Manager - Smart Meter Program, SaskPower)

12:00 p.m. :: Conference Adjourns

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