Enerco aims for ‘smarter’ IT future

Consolidation of national customer information and utility billing should enable New Zealand's largest retail gas supplier, Enerco, to be much smarter about the way it does business. The four Enerco sites - Manawatu/Horowhenua, Wellington, Hawke's Bay and Auckland - have been progressively rolled out through to late September as a single system, based in Auckland.

Consolidation of national customer information and utility billing should enable New Zealand’s largest retail gas supplier, Enerco, to be much smarter about the way it does business.

“The biggest benefits are being able to creatively analyse the customer base and market to it,” says Chris Potter, general manager of Enersis, the IT business arm jointly owned by Enerco and Southpower.

The four Enerco sites — Manawatu/Horowhenua, Wellington, Hawke’s Bay and Auckland — have been progressively rolled out through to late September as a single system, based in Auckland.

Software from local company Peace Computers was chosen for the project after evaluation of several options. Peace was the incumbent at Enerco.

“We had to look at a system that was well supported in New Zealand,” Potter says. “Peace is by far the biggest and best set up.”

The software was heavily customised. “There was little chance of getting a general package that would meet all of Enerco’s requirements. We didn’t want to be constrained.”

He says perhaps half of the modules were modified.

It was the first time Peace Energy software had been implemented as a multi-regional suite, Potter says.

Enerco has 110,000 domestic, commercial and industrial customers. “The most important benefit from consolidation is treating all the customers in the same way. It was costing a lot previously in handling things in different ways and places.”

Potter says there is now an opportunity to also consolidate the four call centres and database administration.

The new software runs on a Digital cluster, using Digital Unix with 24-hour x 7-day failover.

“The original plan was to implement it also at Southpower but that changed because of Max Bradford’s energy reforms,” Potter says. Under the reforms, utilities have to decide whether to be a lines or retail supplier — they can’t be both.

Peace CEO Brian Peace says deregulation and integration are creating an energy environment far more complex than the traditional one. “The old environment was typified by close regulation of franchise area, service levels and price. Deregulation creates significant opportunities to those organisations best able to respond quickly and add value to services. Customer information and billing systems are critical to success in such an environment.”

Enersis, formed from the former IT departments of Southpower and Enerco, has been operating as a standalone company for 18 months. Potter says it is the only company providing all services from the desktop up and that fully understands the energy business in New Zealand.

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