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Blog   Transmission and Reliability Management   Modernizing the Energy Accounting Business

Modernizing the Energy Accounting Business

Are you still having your Balancing and Transmission system analysts do the energy accounting and reporting with spreadsheets? Or some sort of in-house built energy accounting system that is out of the control of the analysts that use the product day in and day out?

I would like to share my experiences — from the perspective of the manager of a group of real-time, pre-scheduling, and after-the-fact personnel — on doing energy accounting for load, billing, and reporting from spreadsheets and why a more automated, data searchable solution is needed as a replacement and/or upgrade.

Spreadsheets are a valuable tool, but not as a long-term database for metering data, load calculations, report generation, and user readability. With multiple transmission pre-schedulers and a single, shared spreadsheet on a common network drive, spreadsheets can only go so far. If somebody has the spreadsheet open, no one else can use it until the spreadsheet is closed out. Another issue is when somebody forgets to write down the values, the check-out gets out of “alignment,” the data used by the billing analyst is wrong and an incorrect invoice is generated. This creates a situation where additional time is expended trying to find the discrepancy when it’s time for verification with the customer.

Better yet, somebody makes an edit to a formula in the spreadsheet (or multiple sheets) that’s factually wrong. Other tabs in that spreadsheet become populated or replicated and used in subsequent months without review until multiple months of data is wrong. This is further complicated as there is no real audit trail to see when and by whom the erroneous change was made. Spreadsheets do not lend themselves to great auditing in energy accounting.

Modern day applications — with report generation and email routing capabilities — are much better than in the recent past. Even better are solutions which:

• Combine all of those features but also allow a business analyst to work with real-time and pre-scheduling personnel and develop calculations, displays, and reports to meet their needs; 
• Use the time-series data that would have been in those spreadsheets and allows for quality control, display creativeness with the same data (avoiding replication of datasets) and is available to multiple users at the same time;
• Archive and lock, so that replication of reports from several years ago produce that same report today as it did then.

The OATI energy accounting software solution provides that feature set that takes primary data from your meters, schedules, and e-Tags to allow you to:

• Combine them in a logical and methodical way and create information from that data;
• Combine, subtract, and find a coincident value, like the system peak, and generate a management report consistently and one time;
• Take that report and automatically route to a defined list of personnel at a specified date/time;
• Create data reports in a consistent manner that is then available for compliance reporting under FERC Form 1 and FERC Form 714.

These principles and features are a long way from when data was manipulated by hand, accountants worried over usable disk space and human errors, and errors were fixed in the billing cycle. With consistent, controlled, and available data as the main principles behind OATI webAccounting and its optional invoicing module, OATI can help you modernize your energy accounting business today. Reach out to to schedule a free demo or request the OATI energy accounting infographic here.

About the Author: 
Mr. Mark Hackney has over 32 years of experience within the electric utility industry. Mr. Hackney is currently a Director West Reliability at Open Access Technology International, Inc. (OATI). He is responsible for Balancing Areas and Transmission Providers within the Western Interconnection and meeting their needs for new and innovative solutions to enhance, supplement, or replace existing products.

October 31, 2018