Duke Energy taps Convergys for smart grid billing

One of the biggest drivers for smart grid deployments has been the cost savings it can bring both utilities and their customers, but this requires new methods of data management, new customer options and a new method of billing. To address this need, third largest US electric company and smart grid pioneer Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) today added Convergys (NYSE: CVG) to its growing list of partners. Convergys will provide Duke with smart grid billing and customer management.

This is the first time that Convergys has worked with an electric utility. Using its grid-specific Smart Customer Information System (CIS), Duke Energy will have quicker access to data for two-way transactions in real-time – something that legacy technologies were not designed to support. The CIS solution provides real-time rating, dynamic billing and collection and flexible customer and account management tailored to smart grids.

Bob Lento, president of information management for Convergys, stressed that the CIS can reduce the technology and investment risk inherent with the smart grid. The solution is rapidly deployable and supports new requirements on the smart grid with minimal impact to the utility’s legacy CIS infrastructure, he said.

Duke Energy serves four million electric and gas customers spanning five states. It has been most aggressive so far in Ohio where it has gotten regulatory approval to move forward and is planning a five-year rollout to its territories costing $1 billion. The company’s grid plans include automated equipment, wireless sensing device and advanced meters with the ultimate goal of two-way communication with its customers.

Duke Energy’s partner list also includes Cisco, Ambient and Echelon, and senior vice president for smart grid and customer systems Todd Arnold said the utility is in the process of working with a major wireless provider as well.

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