Oracle announced on January 22 that Pacific Gat and Electric (PG&E) will rely on its Utilities Customer Care and Billing software to run America’s largest smart meter project. This initiative will help PG&E’s business and residential customers become more energy efficient and will lessen greenhouse gas emissions that cause global warming.
PG&E has a customer base of about 15 million people in Central and Northern California. On a daily basis, PG&E processes over 260,000 billing statements totaling some $40 million. The company handles around 15 million customer calls annually. PG&E’s SmartMeter™ program, launched at the start of the new year, will replace human meter readers with an automatic process that relies on smart meter technology to improve the company’s customer relationships, reduce peak power demand, and pinpoint power outages should they occur.
Within five years, PG&E will replace or retrofit more than 10 million traditional meters with smart meters that will enable time-based billing intervals of 15 minutes for electricity and daily for gas. This will increase the volume of network-wide meter reads from 4 million gas reads a month to 120 million and electric meter reads from 5 million a month to 3.6 billion.
To manage this vastly enhanced network activity and volume of information, PG&E has elected Oracle to implement its Utilities Customer Care and Billing software to handle the crunch. The software handles transmitted data from its raw format and transfers it into usable information for billing purposes. The application will also enable PG&E to provide its SmartMeter™ customers with information they can use to make better decisions about their personal energy consumption and will allow them to participate in company energy efficiency programs.
Oracle’s Utilities Customer Care and Billing package is already used by over 2000 employees at PG&E to manage customer billing, meter inventory, and power outages including work crew dispatch.
However, to support the new smart meter systems requirements and rising customer demand, PG&E needed an always-available network infrastructure that could cost-effectively meet the goals of the SmartMeter™ rollout. The upgrades to the power network are considerable notwithstanding the plans to upgrade over 10 million energy meters. PG&E’s current 20TB database is expected to increase to 45TB in volume as the SmartMeter™ is introduced to the public.
Anticipating these future needs, PG&E recently transitioned from an IBM mainframe environment to UNIX-based servers running Oracle Database and oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC). The individual servers run on midrange IBM System p570 hardware that vastly increase processing capacity while decreasing data center environmental costs by half. PG&E will reap savings of $5 million a year with the upgraded system.
Quentin Grady, GM and senior VP of Oracle Utilities had this to say about the partnership, “We are pleased to support PG&E as it continues to provide innovative services to its customers. Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing running on an enterprise grid with Oracle Database and Oracle Real Application Clusters provides reliability, performance and scalability as PG&E rolls out its SmartMeter™ initiative.”
Oracle is positioned to play a large part in smart meter programs as they are introduced around the world. As the company is demonstrating with PG&E, Oracle is ready to handle the increased demands on any smart meter network.