If you conduct a quick Google search on “utility billing errors” or “data management”, dozens of examples of invoicing issues and articles on the importance of data are returned. You will find that these search results are not specific to one commodity or type of company; they are widespread throughout businesses and exist whether the vendor is a publicly-traded giant or a municipality serving a few hundred residents.
Utility invoicing problems generally occur because of issues with the meter, either understating or overestimating consumption for a particular time period. Rarely is the invoiced utility tariff rate miscalculated. Some of these billing errors can be easily identified by the end-user and do not require energy expertise, while others are easy to miss by the untrained eye.
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The invoices most susceptible to errors are bills manually generated from suppliers. In one example, a facility may have multiple vendors responsible for billing portions of energy cost and consumption for a single site, (i.e. if the location is in a deregulated market and/or has a renewable instrument such as storage or solar in place). To be properly invoiced, the vendors need to communicate with one another to ensure the proper usage is accounted for and that it adheres to the contractual terms of any deal which was executed. Edison Energy’s experience in reviewing large amounts of data over the years has shown that clients can benefit from a trained expert reviewing for accuracy as this process can be challenging due to intricate deal structures and fluctuating market dynamics.
Why does invoice accuracy matter?
Accurate and relevant energy information is the foundation of any energy efficiency, renewable energy, or integrated energy management plan and it starts with the consolidation of data from your energy bills. In Edison’s experience, no system, no matter how technical, can account for all the complexities and nuances energy invoices can present from an audit perspective – Is the cost this facility paying correct? Is the client over-paying? Or conversely, is there a liability from being under-charged by the vendor?
For example, if your organization has made a carbon reduction commitment to reduce the emissions your operations and supply chain emit, data is needed to establish a benchmark. Ongoing monitoring is needed to track the measures taken to see if they are garnering the reduction results you expected. Do you trust the consumption data enough from your payables system to report your annual reduction results?
How does this all tie together?
Where should you focus your emissions reduction efforts next? How does what you have already done impact those decisions? The ROI calculations made to justify a project are only as good as the underlying assumptions about current cost. These are complex choices where data is a key component.
Edison Energy utilizes technology, but more importantly, we leverage our team of industry experts when assessing and auditing the data. This combination has allowed Edison to establish a robust data management program to provide our clients peace of mind when addressing Cost, Carbon and Complex Choices.