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Financial processes and systems: Custom power billing for Buckeye Power


“We thought our problem was unsolvable. MCR showed us a methodical approach to our problem. They showed us that not only could our problem be solved, but that a tool could be developed to address our problem. We were impressed from the beginning.”

—Jim Palmisano, Chief Accounting Officer


Background

Buckeye Power, Inc. is a generation and transmission cooperative that is jointly owned by 25 electric distribution cooperatives in Ohio. The company has its own generation and transmission contracts with five investor-owned utilities to deliver its power to over 450 substation delivery points. Buckeye used a complex system of text files and spreadsheets for capturing meter data and billing its cooperative members. The system was inefficient, prone to data errors and required significant staff hours to manually produce and review the monthly power bills. With the current challenges and new billing requirements on the horizon, the Chief Accounting Officer knew the current power billing approach and system was no longer viable and asked MCR for help.

Solution

We worked with our client to develop an assessment of its current monthly billing data, analysis processes and supporting systems. From the assessment, we developed recommendations for improving the billing process and created a detailed functional and technical specification document for a new power billing system. After researching the market for an “off the shelf” solution to meet the specification, the client team determined that a custom solution was the best option.

Results

We developed and deployed a custom power billing system for our client in four months. The system contains interfaces to import the various load management data, generate the invoices and supporting reporting to the Buckeye member’s website, and post the final billing transactions to the Buckeye accounting system. MCR’s power billing system eliminated the manual production and mailing of bills, and reduced the total cycle time to produce bills from 20 days to 7 days. Staff productivity was increased as staff hours required to produce bills were reduced from 160 hours per month to 40, all while greatly increasing the billing accuracy and availability.