Under the Hood: Urjanet’s Utility Billing Alerts
A key requirement of an effective energy management program is a reliable, complete and accurate stream of utility data that covers the entire enterprise. Another often overlooked requirement is intelligent, audit-based analysis that detects and provides immediate and actionable feedback on billing and usage anomalies in utility accounts and meter data.
Since the launch of Urjanet’s Utility Billing Alerts product, there’s been a lot of interest in the types of alerts available (get whitepaper here) and how they work. Let’s pop the hood on one of these – the High Usage Alert.
Urjanet’s platform processes thousands of utility bills daily, and each bill goes through a comprehensive set of audits. These audits use sophisticated algorithms to detect and flag suspected anomalies in the invoice. As an example, to detect high usage, the newest invoice is compared against all other historical invoices for the same account and meter. A multi-tiered decision strategy based on the amount of context available for the account, coupled with configurable analytics, is used to flag unusual and suspicious consumption patterns.
When a new invoice is received, the high usage audit first checks to see if its consumption values are within normal limits and consistent with past years usage values, and also lie within an acceptable deviation from the mean value. If it is not within an acceptable deviation from the mean then the new invoice is classified as either a low or a high threshold alert, and the customer will receive the appropriate notification. There may also be changes to consumption based on seasonal variations – the normal summer consumption may be higher for electric accounts. If an account’s deviation is “seasonal,” then a more complex “rolling quarter” test is used to determine if this consumption is consistent with past history.
There may be situations where there is not 12 months of account history available. If there are not enough comparative invoices to perform the high usage tests described above, an alternate algorithm may be used. The new invoice consumption may be compared to either the historical mean, or the consumption values for the previous quarter. If a complete determination can still not be made then the invoice is tagged to be re-audited in the next cycle.
While Urjanet’s own analysis provides recommended ranges for the comparisons made by the audit, customers can also set their own thresholds for alerts. Additional information from customers about an account in any form can be very useful in detecting invoice anomalies in situations where history for the account is not available. This also allows the customer to fine-tune the alerts to their specific needs.
There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes to produce accurate and actionable alerts! These alerts can provide immediate value as they can help reduce costs and usage by proactively notifying you about key utility account anomalies.
We’re constantly adding to our alerts suite and would love to hear from you. If you have thoughts to share, let us know on Twitter! And to learn more about how Urjanet’s Utility Data Platform simplifies energy management, check out our Solutions Sheet for Energy Management and Procurement.
- Solutions Sheet: Utility Data for Energy Management & Procurement
- A Guide to Using Utility Data for the CFO
- Webinar: How to Simplify Your Utility Data
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About Urjanet Inc
Urjanet, the global leader in utility data aggregation, simplifies how organizations access and use utility data, enabling them to focus on their business. Our technology collects, processes, and delivers data from over 6,500 electric, natural gas, water, waste, telecom, and cable utilities worldwide.