AMR technology lays the foundation for business success

Oct. 16, 2002
Attendees at the AMRA 2002 International Symposium learned about the latest business strategies and technologies from global leaders of the utility, metering and data management industries.

NORTHBROOK, Ill., Oct. 16, 2002 -- The more than 1,400 people who attended the AMRA 2002 International Symposium, held Sept. 29-Oct. 2 at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, learned about the latest business strategies and technologies from global leaders of the utility, metering and data management industries.

A common theme that emerged during two general sessions and 36 educational sessions is that utility service companies need advanced data collection and information sharing technologies to succeed in today's customer-focused business environment. Industry leaders must embrace technologies that provide timely data so companies can exceed customer expectations, transform enterprisewide processes, meet regulatory requirements and develop new business.

Symposium attendees learned how companies around the world use data collected from consumers' meters to operate as information-driven, future-minded organizations. General sessions featured utility and regulatory leaders who shared experiences related to streamlining operations, improving customer service and conducting business in competitive marketplaces. Highlights included:

* Fidel Marquez, senior vice president of electric transmission and distribution for City Public Service of San Antonio, discussed steps the utility is taking to minimize costs and increase throughput in order to mitigate customers' business risk.

* Michael E. Bray, president of PPL Electric Utilities, told delegates that the utility reviewed AMR for several years before selecting a technology. PPL "first looked at AMR in the mid-'90s, but at that time, the business case just didn't support the expenditure." Over the years, however, the utility's business model grew to encompass numerous business and customer service areas. Now, PPL's entire upper-management team agrees: "AMR is a strategic investment."

* Craig Goodman, president and CEO of the National Energy Marketers Association, stressed the need for standardized data transfer across competitive markets. "We have to achieve regional and national economies of scale," he said. "The better the demand management and the better the technology, the better we can do that."

* A similar message came from Steve Carrico, director of communications business development for Wisconsin Public Service Co. He encouraged cooperation among trade associations to maximize resources and improve member benefits.

* Renowned energy industry attorney and consultant James Rodier reminded delegates that deregulation continues to change the way utilities handle customer relations and business methodologies. As more and more markets open to competition, customers are increasingly able to request - and receive - customized services that help them manage resource consumption and save money.

* Nieves Lopez, chief policy analyst for the Public Utility Commission of Texas, told symposium attendees about her agency's work to structure the state's competitive $14 billion investor-owned electric utility market. Though market participants are working though a few technological challenges, timely data exchange is the key component of day-to-day operations across the United States' second-largest state.

Delegates Build Expertise During Three Days of Courses

Attendees also gathered in-depth information in concurrent educational sessions and presymposium courses.

Nearly 100 speakers with expertise in business models, technology development, system implementation, load reduction and data analysis delivered presentations during the three-day symposium. These industry innovators shared lessons learned during projects designed to improve customer satisfaction, energy management, internal operations and competitive capabilities.

Presymposium courses offered detailed knowledge about technologies, marketing tactics, deployment strategies and industry standards. Nearly 300 people participated in the four-hour courses, designed for industry newcomers and veterans alike. The seven presymposium courses were:

* AMR Systems - Just the Facts: Full-Scale Residential Deployment, Presented by Carolyn Kinsman of Automated Communication Links Inc.

* Telecommunications Solutions, Part 1: Fundamentals and Building Blocks, presented by Dick Preston of Comverge Technologies Inc. and Ron Chebra of RW Beck.

* A Guide to Creating a Successful AMR Business Case, presented by Michael Wiebe and Gary Fauth, Ph.D., of MW Consulting Inc., and John Yanek of PPL Electric Utilities.

* AMR Strategies for C&I, presented by Kinsman

* Telecommunications Solutions, Part 2: Applications and Examples, presented by Preston and Chebra

* Making Sense of AMR Data: Programming and Retrieving Information With ANSI, presented by Avygdor Moise, Ph.D., of Future DOS Research & Development Inc.

* Project Management - Key to Success in AMR, presented by Don Schlenger, Ph.D., Cognyst Consulting LLC

Exhibit Hall Showcases Cutting-Edge Products and Services

Year after year, symposium attendees report that one of the greatest benefits of attending the AMRA symposium is the ability to see demonstrations of all AMR technologies in a single exhibit hall.

With more than 80 companies displaying products and services at the AMRA 2002 International Symposium, attendees were able to get firsthand knowledge about all major metering, billing and data-management offerings. Technologies on display included systems that use public radio-frequency wide-area networks, submetering devices, cellular fixed-networks, Internet-based customer-service packages, and an array of supporting products and services from vendors around the world.

Upcoming AMRA symposia:

AMRA 2003 International Symposium
September 7-10
America's Center
St. Louis, Mo.

AMRA 2004 International Symposium
September 26-29
Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Ctr.
Kissimmee, Fla.

AMRA and e-amra.com are nonprofit organizations founded to address standardization, justification and deployment practices in the application and advancement of enhanced customer-service and resource-management technologies. The groups' mission is to provide AMR information and educational resources worldwide by advocating standards and the use of advanced metering technologies. Members of the associations receive numerous benefits, including newsletters, AMR reports and updates, and discounted registration fees for educational events.

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