WEL Technology plans to double its staff this year as it moves more aggressively into the US market.
The former software arm of Hamilton utility company WEL Energy has appointed two agents to drum up trade on the east and west coasts of the US, along with a Melbourne-based representative to seek Australian business.
The opportunity flows from the worldwide deregulation of energy markets and the PV2 software developed over seven years by WEL Energy. Some 70% of Kiwi electricity companies, and 60 electricity firms in Ontario, Canada already use it.
Since WEL Tech was taken over by Auckland-based Spectrum Resources late last year, staff numbers have increased from nine to 16. WEL Tech boss Gavin Mitchell says another two or three developers are being sought, with a further five to six wanted in around six months.
PV2 uses Oracle database software, Microsoft technology and is coded in Visual Basic. Mitchell says it allows companies to become “more intimate” with their larger customers. Close analysis of power consumption means the retailers can prepare more attractive billing regimes and hopefully keep or attract business. “We call it a suite of company management tools,” he says.
In October, WEL Tech signed its first US deal with Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy for close to $1 million for software and related services. MidAmerican serves 1.5 million customers and is owned by billionaire investor Warren Buffet. WEL Tech is using the deal as a “showcase” site for potential US customers.
The Melbourne office is preparing a PV2 launch in Australia, where the final tranche of deregulation is expected in early 2002.
Mitchell also hopes for big things from California, where the problems with its botched semi-deregulation led to blackouts. Trouble-free Northeastern states, as well as Ohio, Illinois, Texas and Florida, are also important markets. Nationwide, the US has 3000 energy retailers. “There is plenty of scope for us,” says Mitchell.
Mitchell says PV2, which has also been sold to Malaysia, has already undergone several modifications such as more complex billing solutions based on its US experience, and says it will continually evolve to serve its market.