Expert Opinion: Flexibility is the key to smart energy billing

Energy providers are facing numerous billing and charging challenges. In increasingly competitive energy markets, providers need to offer pre-paid and post-paid billing, timed tariffs, and load-sensitive pricing (for example, in cold weather). Variable energy supplies from renewable sources also add some uncertainty to energy pricing, and providers (as well as consumers) can make the most of fluctuating markets if they can offer variable pricing. How well are today’s energy providers meeting these challenges?

Dynamic Energy Billing allows for new personalised offers and service bundles
The times when energy suppliers could attract customers by offering just one tariff or a tariff with two different options are long gone. As the energy market becomes more and more competitive, suppliers need to offer attractive, new services and tariffs. To enable these offerings, real-time charging and billing is needed. Now, as Orga Systems writes, flexible tariff configuration can be achieved in real time by a centralised rating engine.

Dynamic energy billing enhances energy efficiency and helps reducing CO2 emissions. With real-time based energy billing solutions, energy providers can efficiently cope with the challenges that renewable energies from volatile sources bring into the business.

Flexible tariff configuration allows them to offer pre-paid, time-of-use or critical-peak pricing. These configuration and simulation features have to provide easy to use means to launch new offers and service bundles – a key benefit also for the consumer, who can constantly monitor and therefore easily lower the energy consumption to save money.

One interesting aspect of machine-to-machine (M2M) communication is smart metering of multi- utilities. Taking into account that leading analysts predict strong growth for M2M connections, the topic becomes even more attractive. Some predict that wireless M2M connections will reach 294.1 million in 2015 (Source: Berg Insight, February 2011). This would represent 4% of total cellular connections worldwide. Furthermore, the number of M2M connections may rise to 2.1 billion in
2020. Taking these impressive figures into account, operators face major challenges in sales, marketing and converging OSS/BSS (operations & business support systems) for M2M services.

Automation and large scale are key for profitable business
Many operators have realised the revenue opportunities for M2M business. Taking a look at today’s margins for this business, it becomes obvious that it will be a tough task to realise profitable margins for these M2M services.

To act profitably, operators need to offer connections on a high volume basis bundled with dedicated managed service offerings. Moreover, they need to dramatically reduce their costs for enabling these M2M services. Orga Systems enables MNOs to optimize their service innovation or diversification, based on its real-time convergent charging and billing solutions.

Operators need to automate device support for customers in markets like smart grids, energy, transportation telematics or healthcare. This is the only way to reduce provisioning as well as customer support costs and enable profitable M2M business. While monthly revenues for dedicated transportation telematics services are not that low, areas with the highest growth rates like smart metering generate extremely low average revenues per user (ARPUs). Real-time capabilities are the common basis to promote profitable M2M business. For the utility market, an easy integration into existing meter data management and utility CIS systems based on standard interfaces needs to be ensured.

Enhance energy efficiency by dynamic billing
Using configurable projection time and considering external events such as weather forecasts (wind/sunshine) make personalised tariffs match perfectly. This is designed to change the consumers’ usage behaviour and to enable intelligent home automation services. As the energy sector is becoming more and more competitive, energy retailers need to offer attractive new tariffs and services. Orga Systems’ flexible tariff configuration and simulation features provide easy to use means to launch these offers and service bundles. The support of standard interfaces allows for easy integration into existing meter data management and utility CIS (customer information systems).

By dynamically adjusting the tariff to the consumer, consumption can be stimulated. This can avoid negative pricing or grid congestion in high throughput periods when using energy from volatile renewable energy sources. Demand-side energy management will become an easy task while also meeting regulatory requirements.

Real-time processing of load and price signals between multiple providers, users and devices is required to ensure accurate prices. Orga Systems
enables dynamic pricing for volatile renewable energy, which is configurable by a centralised rating engine.

Dynamic pricing and integration of value added services for satisfied customers
Special requirements have to be met in order to cope with the increasing percentage of renewable energy from volatile sources. Demand can be stimulated by lowering the current selling price to avoid negative pricing or grid congestion in phases of high throughout. This can trigger the storage of energy or temporarily activate variable loads in the household.

A key benefit of Orga Systems’ Dynamic Energy Billing solution is the flexible configuration of tariffs, reflecting time-of-use or critical-peak pricing. For energy customers a new mobile application “E.Cockpit” is offered. The application reflects current consumption values, energy costs and prices on request.

In addition to consumption and cost projections, monthly billing and pre-paid energy are supported by the solution. This means consumers can constantly monitor and, therefore, easily lower their consumption while the energy provider is able to attract new customers by innovative tariff plans.

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