Electric Utility Billing Glitch--Paging Drew Parkhill

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This today from the Patriot News in Harrisburg (sorry--no link available--somebody who received a inaccurate bill will have to respond, or Drew Parkhill will have to check this out)

Computer Glitches Foul Electric Bills from Pennsylvania Utility

BY David DeKok


KRTBN Knight-Ridder Tribune Business News: The Patriot-News - Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, Source: World Reporter

Competition in the electricity market is not going smoothly for many Pennsylvania consumers, state and industry officials say. Problems with a new PP&L Resources computer system and various administrative problems at Exelon Energy, a PECO Energy affiliate, have caused customers to get incomplete or inaccurate bills.


Mitchell Miller, director of the PUC Bureau of Consumer Services, said some 4,000 consumer inquiries and complaints have been received since electric competition began Jan. 1. The PUC opened investigations of about 400 of those, he said.


PP&L purchased a new computer system late in 1996 from Andersen Consulting of Chicago, an industry leader that has installed similar systems at 22 U.S. and foreign utilities. The Andersen system was then customized for PP&L's needs. Bernard Bujnowski, PP&L project manager for customer support systems, said installation of the new system was necessary both to make the utility Y2K compliant and to meet the demands of electric competition. "These custom systems are huge, complex undertakings," he said. "It required over 35,000 person-days of work over two years to install. Millions of lines of code had to be written." PP&L had expected to go over to the new system on Thanksgiving weekend last year, but was unable to do so until late January, shortly before the first bills under electric competition had to go out. Some of those first bills generated by the new system were whoppers, Bujnowski said, wildly overstating the amount that the customer really owed. PP&L has corrected the problem by having the system kick out bills that seem to be out of whack with the customer's previous usage pattern for manual examination, he said.


He said the problems experienced to date are typical for large new-enterprise computer systems. PP&L expected a "storm period" of three to six months after the new system went online, and Bujnowski said he was not blaming Andersen Consulting for all of the problems.


Pennsylvania is the first state where the Andersen system has been used under conditions of full electric competition involving significant numbers of customers.

-- Gearhead (2plus2@motown2.com), April 07, 1999


Ahso! It has started.

-- h (h@h.h), April 07, 1999.


did you type this in, since there's no web version?

-- Drew Parkhill/CBN News (y2k@cbn.org), April 07, 1999.

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