The new billing system will support the city's electric, water and waste-collection operations and other city operational fees. It will have an open architecture, be compatible with other city systems, and be capable of providing real time access to information for customers and employees. The goal is to provide a single point of contact for customers through multiple communications channels for utility-based products and services.
More importantly, the billing system, when combined with new meters the city plans to deploy this fall, will allow the city to begin implementing a smart electric grid. By providing consumers with real-time information on their energy consumption, smart grids help customers better manage their energy usage and lower their monthly bills. For utilities like Austin Energy, smart grids make it easier to detect outages and integrate cleaner, renewable energy sources such as solar and wind power.
"The City of Austin has long been at the forefront of green energy initiatives, so we are excited to work with the city on this new billing system, which will lay the groundwork for the development of a smart grid in Central Texas," said Jeff Smith, vice president, Communications Sector Solutions, IBM.
IBM and the City of Austin are members of the Pecan Street Project (www.pecanstreetproject.org), a consortium of public and private partners including Austin Energy, Austin Technology Incubator, the Environmental Defense Fund, the Greater Austin Chamber of Commerce, The University of Texas at Austin, Applied Materials, Cisco, Dell, Freescale Semiconductor, GE, GridPoint, Intel, Microsoft, Oracle and SEMATECH. The group's goal is to design a clean energy infrastructure, business model and proving ground for tomorrow's energy technology.
The new billing system consists of the Oracle Customer Care and Billing application running on IBM WebSphere and IBM Tivoli middleware.