August 31, 2015

Energy industry trend: real-time energy billing

Lauri Pulkkinen

Lead Enterprise Architect, Tieto

Big change in the energy industry is ahead—both for consumers and companies, as smart meter readings will convert real-time energy consumption into readable sums of money, and payments fixed once per calendar month become history. Real-time rating and billing is the key terminology for electricity of tomorrow.

Future energy customers will enjoy smoother customer experience as we are heading towards a new billing system involving both real-time rating and billing. But what does this new terminology mean, and what benefits will the change involve?

In brief, real-time rating, is a process that automatically converts the consumption from kilowatt hours (kWh) to an actual monetary value, which can be viewed at any moment by the end user.

Real-time billing, however, is the next phase in the evolution of the digital energy business. This model will radically change the way we monitor our energy consumption and pay our energy bills, pushing us towards a better and much more dynamic model.

Energy companies & real-time billing

 For companies that sell energy, the ability to monitor sales in real-time is highly important. Until recently, they had to settle for monthly predictions based on forecasts and then have to wait 30 agonising days to discover the accuracy of their prediction.

In future models of energy billing, energy companies will have easy access to sales figures. As real-time rating and billing will show them how much energy they have sold, inconsistencies and potential fraud can be discovered at any point in the billing cycle.

As a result, both the quality and accuracy of bills are continuously improved, giving energy companies both time and insight to establish better contracts.

Main benefits for consumers

For consumers, the biggest benefit of real-time rating and billing is an increased understanding of their real-time energy consumption—and especially its monetary cost.

Until real-time rating, consumers have previously had dreadful times figuring out the costs of their energy consumption and optimising it accordingly. Under the new model, bills will be completely comprehensible—e.g. energy consumption is given as 2€ instead of some number of kWh.

This simplicity makes it easier to optimise consumption and hence reduce energy costs. Furthermore, if customers so desire, they may pay off their bills at any given moment instead of waiting for a monthly bill.

From actual billing to real-time rating & billing

Stepping into the new system of real-time billing will not happen overnight. The route to tracking the energy consumption of each home and business in real time, along with dynamic kWh to euro exchange rates, may involve a few challenges. One of the biggest will be systematically handling the massive amounts of data required.

Energy customers are however already eager toward the new generation of billing. When successful, real-time billing will create great new opportunities for power companies to offer a better overall digital customer experience - from creating new products and service innovations to even new pricing opportunities.

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