Charlotte, NC–OUC—The Reliable One was recognized by CS Week and Electric Light & Power Magazine at a major utility conference with a 2015 Expanding Excellence Award for Innovation in Customer Service. Building on a platform of advanced digital electric and water meters, OUC is advancing the use of smart grid technology and information to revolutionize the customer service experience. “[OUC] far exceeded the ingenuity, success and commitment we envisioned when this award was created,” CS Week CEO Rod Litke said.
OUC launched a series of technology enhancements to support mobile devices, automate its website, add a consumption dashboard, and sync its automated phone system with the website and new customer-facing products such as OUC’s innovative Power Pass prepaid program. This award is especially significant because it places OUC at the top of a category that groups all large utilities in North America.
“This is a major step forward in getting to our goal of being the best utility, not just in the eyes of our peers in the industry, but also and more importantly—in the eyes of our customers,”
OUC General Manager and CEO Ken Ksionek said. “Our customers told us they want more detailed account information—not just about their bills, but also power and water consumption, and they want to be able to access it on their mobile device day or night.”
Last year, OUC won another national award from CS Week and Electric Light & Power Magazine, a non-profit organization that serves utilities across North America. It recognized OUC’s success in creating the foundation for its smart grid—installing more than 375,000 digital electric and water meters connected to a network that links them to OUC’s central data center as well as a number of related systems that benefit customers.
“This is just the beginning. We can build on this information to empower our customers to make better decisions about their use of energy and water through our consumption dashboard which will help make us more sustainable. We will also get more detailed information about our systems which will also enhance our reliability,” OUC Chief Information Officer Jerry Sullivan said.
This year’s prize recognizes OUC for taking this customer/utility connectivity into the future by vastly increasing the size and speed of information flow making OUC’s smart grid one of the most robust in the nation.
OUC is also using smart grid technology to pinpoint problems the moment they occur while tracking crew locations in order to dispatch the closest truck to resolve customer issues as quickly as possible. Additionally, advanced digital water meters can detect leaks almost immediately helping conserve a precious resource while expediting repairs.
“It’s more than just providing a reliable service. We also have to be innovative, and through exceptional innovation we are able to leverage technology to improve the customer experience and reduce operating costs,” Vice President of Marketing, Communications & Community Relations Roseann Harrington said.
OUC was able to complete a total of ten technology projects in record time which established the necessary infrastructure to provide new products and services such as pre-paid metering.
These systems allowed OUC to close its three walk-in service centers and reduce costs in September 2013. Those savings were passed on to OUC customers in the form of two rate-reductions saving a typical consumer more than $10 each month.
About the Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC)
Established in 1923 by a special act of the Florida Legislature, OUC—The Reliable One is the second largest municipal utility in Florida and 14th largest municipal in the country. OUC provides electric, water, chilled water and/or lighting services to more than 234,000 customers in Orlando, St. Cloud and parts of unincorporated Orange and Osceola counties. According to data provided by the Florida Public Service Commission, OUC has been more reliable than the state’s investor-owned utilities for 17 years running. OUC is focused not just on reliability and affordability, but weaves sustainability into everything it does. This includes opening the area’s first community solar farm, installing nearly 150 electric vehicle charging stations, implementing a comprehensive corporate recycling program and encouraging its customers to use energy and water as wisely as possible.