AMI Deployment— becoming a key partner in the execution of a transformational smart meter vision
Energy & Utilities: A case study
Date : March 3, 2015
West Monroe Partners managed the mobilization and execution of a comprehensive implementation plan for the expansion of a small AMI Pilot throughout the entire four million meter service territory of a large Midwest Utility.
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West Monroe Partners was initially selected to work with a Midwest Utility’s leadership team to develop a detailed implementation plan that would serve as the roadmap for this transformational journey. The implementation plan would also be used as an external communication tool for customers, stakeholders, and the Regulatory body.

The vision for the smart meter project was to transform the way the utility does business with its customers. The project enhances its energy services through the integration of advanced meters, information technology applications, and a telecommunications network with redesigned business processes and energy advisory services.

To help implement this ambitious vision, the Utility selected West Monroe Partners to provide Program Management Office (PMO) services including scope, schedule, and budget management. This work consisted of core project management services such as conducting weekly program wide status meetings, risk and issue management, and communication throughout the organization via executive read-outs and cross departmental reports and updates.

Throughout the course of detailed planning and project management, a number of strategic risks and issues were identified, including:

  • The potential need for a smart meter alternative (e.g., opt-out) for customers
  • Heat-related meter issues, and the potential linkage to fires
  • Tracking, reporting and responding to customer-related concerns, such as RF emissions, privacy, and data security
  • A strategy and necessary tactics for addressing the risks associated with high-bill complaints from customers after the installation of a smart meter
  • Development of a future-state operating model for AMI and IT Operations
  • New processes to monitor and improve the health of the AMI system through data analytics and operational enhancements
  • Creating a strategy to achieve and sustain industry-leading meter reading rates

By leveraging best practices, project experiences, and sound judgment, West Monroe Partners provided insights and guidance on the identified risks and issues and drove the solutions and action plans for resolution. These plans involved collaboration with multiple departments and levels throughout the Utility, and ongoing monitoring and mitigation through communication and pro-active management.

Along with core PMO services, West Monroe Partners was also asked to provide pre-planning support to the IT organization. West Monroe was tasked to identify the key IT workstreams related to the program, align them with the associated legislative requirements, and develop timelines, dependencies, and action plans for the completion. The successful completion of this project has led to additional work with the IT department, including:

  • Development of a Cyber Security Strategy and Plan that was reviewed and approved by the Regulatory Body
  • Assessment of the AMI Telecom Network and creation of a roadmap for the future operating model and related capabilities
  • Continuous management of the deployment of Distribution Automation technology throughout the service territory

After recognizing the need for developing a comprehensive education and outreach program to engage with its customers, community organizations, and stakeholders, the Utility again reached out to West Monroe Partners. The selected team was able to leverage best practices and industry insights into the formulation of a customized 10-year plan for stakeholder engagement.

Additionally, West Monroe Partners has assisted the Utility through the ongoing Regulatory process, including witness testimony creation, development of formal filing documents, and operational and financial analysis of meter deployment alternatives. This work has contributed to the formal Commission approval of the project and has positioned the Utility for a successful AMI implementation.

By providing flexible and effective services, sound strategic insights, and a thorough analysis, West Monroe Partners has become a key partner in the execution of the transformational smart meter vision of a large Midwest Utility.

For more information on this project or West Monroe’s services for the Energy & Utilities industry, please contact Tom Hulsebosch, Managing Director, at thulsebosch@westmonroepartners.com.

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