Itron, Inc. and Exceleron Software are delivering a smart payment solution to Jefferson Energy Cooperative, a member-owned energy cooperative with more than 30,000 customers in 11 Georgia counties. Jefferson uses Itron’s cellular communications with MultiSpeak interface in conjunction with Exceleron’s MyUsage Prepaid to offer prepaid accounts to customers throughout its territory. Jefferson also uses Itron Services to manage and maintain the cellular communication solution.
Problems associated with delinquent accounts originally drove Jefferson to a prepayment solution in the 1990s. After using two earlier prepayment technologies, Jefferson turned to Itron to conduct a pilot test using cellular-based technology at locations throughout its service territory. The test yielded a 100 percent success rate and proved the Itron technology’s ease of installation and operation, leading the cooperative to proceed with cellular communications.
With smart payment, Jefferson’s customers pay in advance for the electricity they will consume—and can afford. This simplifies the utility's operations, reduces delinquent account risks and electricity diversion, and improves cash flow. The solution delivers Jefferson’s key prepayment requirements, including strategic deployment capabilities, reliable communications to remote areas, and remote disconnect and reconnect. The solution has increased member satisfaction and encouraged energy conservation, with an average decrease in consumption of approximately 13 percent for prepaid accounts. Along with changes in deposit requirements for standard metering, implementing the prepay program has provided the utility with a 50 percent reduction in bad debt.