2011 Utility Payment Conference
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2011 Utility Payment ConferenceCase Study: Best Practices and Multi-Payment Channels – PGE’s Innovative Programs & InitiativesTuesday, Sept 20th 10:45 – 11:45Presented by Wes Friesen, Manager – Revenue Collection & Community Offices for Portland General Electric(Note: the views expressed here are Wes’s and not necessarily PGE’s; Also, PGE does not endorse any vendors or suppliers)

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Company overview
Company Overview

Portland General Electric

  • Oregon’s largest utility

  • Headquarters is located in Portland, Oregon

  • Fully integrated electric utility that serves 825,000 residential, commercial and industrial customers

  • PGE is a recognized leader in the utility industry and has safely and dependably powered northwest Oregon since 1889



Print mail services
Print & Mail Services

  • InfoPrint 5000 Color Printers; Pitney Bowes Inserters (APS, FPS); other print and mail related equipment and software

  • Only electric utility in the nation that is MPTQM certified

  • Have earned multiple national awards for Excellence (e.g. 2008, 2009, 2010 earned NAPL’s Gold/Silver Awards)

  • 100% Same Day production of bills for over 9 straight years, with zero significant errors!

  • Maximize postal discounts ($3m savings) via selective/intelligent inserting and automation/sortation work sharing; early adopter of Intelligent Mail BarCode


Customer bills june 2011
Customer Bills (June 2011)

Paper Bills = 742,977 (87.7 %)

E-Bills = 103,977 (12.3%)

E-Bills are growing in number and %; paper bills are relatively flat in numbers

Multi-Channel Bill Redesign initiative in process (moving Bills & related communications from very good to great)

Paper comes from PGE Customer Boise Cascade, using sustainable fiber sources: construction/lumber mill wood waste; re-cycled paper; sustainable and certified tree farms/forests

Environmental Certification (SFI) in place for envelope & forms vendors; certification in process for print & mail services SFI certification


Payment departments
Payment Departments

Cash Remittance

Mail-in Payments

Electronic Billing and Payments

Electronic and Third Party

Community Offices

Walk-in payments




Cash remittance
Cash Remittance

  • Processes all mail-in payments for PGE

    • Light and Power

    • Agency

    • Non-Light and Power

  • Process 80+% of payments ARC

  • Implementing Image Cash Letter for remainder

  • Hardware:

    • Utilize OPEX 7.5 and 51s w/3690i

    • Burroughs Quantum's

  • Software

    • Running on a UNISYS Lockbox platform

      NOTE: PGE does not endorse any vendors/suppliers


Cash remittance1
Cash Remittance

  • Marksense

    • Redeem PGE Gift Cards

    • Address changes/customer comments

  • Bangtail envelopes for promoting PGE programs

  • One Check and Consolidated Bill payments

  • Archive of Bill Stub and Check Images


Iso 9001 certification
ISO 9001 Certification

Background:

Goal is Continuous Improvement

Became Certified in 2009

111 Procedures, 85 Forms and full-day Audits

Benefits:

Vendor reviews resulted in better service and relationships

Clear training setup

Changes tracked to procedures

Communication of changes made more quickly

Pride in meeting goals and passing audits

Changes:

Quarterly Review of Vendors/Suppliers

Issues Database

Documented Procedures

Quality Manual

Change Management System

Training Manual


Agency portal
Agency Portal

  • Allows Agencies to view PGE customer’s account with permission from customer

  • Able to view any commitments previously made on an account, view account balances, and create a commitment on the account

  • Reduces calls and call times for both PGE and agency personnel

  • Automatically deletes commitment from account once money is posted

  • Huge success with Agencies – high satisfaction!



Electronic bills payments
Electronic Bills & Payments

  • Express Pay Locations

  • VCOM Kiosks

  • Bill Matrix

  • Mobile Payments via Text Message

  • Automatic Monthly Payments

  • PGE IVR check payment

  • Online Payments

You are enrolled in

Auto Pay


Express pay locations
Express Pay Locations

  • PGE’s Express Pay stations let you pay your PGE bill at grocery stores, pharmacies and other convenient places.

  • PGE has contracted with Fidelity Express; transitioning to Western Union.

  • There is a $1.50 convenience fee charged for each payment made at an Express Pay location. The $1.50 convenience fee must be paid in cash.


V com
VCOM

  • Advantages For Customers:

  • Convenient Locations

  • Customer can use the system in English or Spanish

  • Pay 24 hours a day, 7 days a week depending on the store location

  • Ability to pay by cash or debit card (no credit cards or money orders)

  • For PGE:

  • Provides another convenient payment option for customers

  • Very low cost to process payments because the customer is paying a $1.50 fee for the service and completing the transaction on their own.


Billmatrix
BillMatrix

Advantages For Customers:

Customers can use the system in English or Spanish

Payments can be made via the web from a link on PGEs website or over the phone

Customers can use VISA, MasterCard or Discover card, as well as any ATM / debit card that displays the StarSM System logo. Note: There is a $600 maximum per transaction

For PGE:

Provides another convenient payment option for customers

Very low cost to process payments because the customer is paying a $3.95 fee for the service and completing the transaction on their own.

A COMPANY OF



Other checking account options
Other Checking Account Options

  • Automatic Monthly Payments

    • Auto Pay

  • PGE IVR check payment

    • In house w/no fee

  • Online Payments

    • Recurring

    • One-time



Community offices
Community Offices

  • Processes walk-in and drop box payments at

    7 different locations

  • Created PGE Gift Card Program

  • Process MasterCard credit and debit cards with no fee to customer

  • Started processing checks via Remote Deposit in February 2008; BOC in 2009

  • Electronic surveying of customer experience

  • Elder Friendly Certified Offices


Community offices1
Community Offices

Remote Capture/BOC

  • Checks are captured and sent to the bank along with MICR info from the checks

  • Eligible items are converted to ACH

  • Reduction in bank fees

  • Bank deals with Administrative returns

  • Slight reduction in float time of checks

  • Payback period was less than 6 months


Gift cards
Gift Cards

History:

  • Before 2007, PGE had a Gift Certificate program

  • Had to know address or PGE account number

  • Red tape did not allow PGE reps to give out personal information or verify amount owed

  • Money went directly on account and card was sent to PGE customer informing them of gift applied to account

  • Not a very popular program


Gift cards1
Gift Cards

Challenges:

  • Public Utility Commission’s rule on 1 year “suspense” payment rule

  • How to buy or redeem gift cards

  • Tracking redemption of cards

  • Cost of gift cards

  • Reconciling Redeemed/Paid accounts


Gift cards2
Gift Cards

In 2007: 979 cards sold = $36,124

In 2008: 1,574 cards sold = $63,720

In 2009: 2,539 cards sold = $76,829

In 2010: 1,499 cards sold = $71,653


Credit cards
Credit Cards

  • Currently receiving MasterCard payments with no fee in Community offices

  • VISA and MasterCard can be used through Bill Matrix with a $3.95 fee

  • Customer feedback supports wanting more credit card options

  • Challenges in getting approved in revenue requirements; looking at trying to get residential fees covered in 2013 test year

  • Looking at future opportunities on PGE website


Future plans
Future Plans

  • Real-time (More Frequent) Payment Posting

  • Quick Response 2D barcode (payments, marketing)

  • Pre-paid metering

  • Credit Cards accepted on PGE website for residential customers for a small fee or free starting in 2013 (free only if covered in rates)

  • Company focus on Payments




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