Billing Design

Customer billing, whether the billing system used by the agency or what the water bill sent to a customer looks like, are important decisions for an agency to consider when implementing BBRs. The water bill a customer receives is crucial in helping to further customer understanding and acceptance of a BBR structure. There are various different ways to explain the customer’s individualized water budget and show how water use was portioned up to calculate the total fee owed.

Billing System

The table below shows brief descriptions of the respective billing systems used by various agencies during some part of BBR development, implementation, and ongoing support. Benefits of the billing systems in general, as well as specific comments related to using the billing systems with BBRs are described.

LVMWD’s transition to BBRs involved re-programming the District’s Customer Information System (CIS) by the software vendor, Advanced Utility Systems (AUS), as described in the statement of work. The key modifications included the addition of water budget formulas for different customer classes, calculation of water budgets for each customer, retrieval of evapotranspiration data from an external source and new billing statement calculations. The re-programming cost of $45,500 included testing and monitoring of the system after the changes were completed. The section, Setting a Water Budget, describes the formulas used by the program for calculating water budgets and billing for various customer classes.

(implemented 2010)Previously used home- grown program written in COBOL (used during implementation of BBRs)
• There are no benefits to this billing system. It had to have custom programs written for it to work with BBRs and it is not a system CVWD would recommend for BBRs. • Initially implemented BBRs under own home-grown billing system, which required a lot of programming by Information Systems Department

• The SunGard system had already been chosen when CVWD decided to implement BBRs

EMWD COINS, a custom billing system
(implemented in the 1990s)
• Customizable
• Staff is familiar with it
• Required about 9 months of effort for Information Systems staff to program COINS to bill BBRs
ETWD Continental
(implemented 2001)
Utility Management Solution (UMS)
(implemented July 2016)
• UMS is CUSI’s 3rd Generation Customer Information System and Utility Billing Application built from the ground up

• Utilizes Microsoft’s .Net Framework and Microsoft’s SQL Server Database Management System. Both the .Net Framework and SQL Server Database system allow CUSI to maintain a modern and scalable application that utility companies can grow and expand their customer service offerings to better serve each customer base.

• Built in features include Customized toolbar, Calendar and Task List reminders, Customer Information Management, Service Location Management, Mobile Service orders, Meter Information Management, Payment and Transaction Management along with the ability to track demographics to be utilized with Conservation Based Rates

• A full payment suite is offered with a real-time integrated Customer Web Portal (CWP) that is maintained by CUSI along with Merchant Services, Secure E-Billing, Bank Check Elimination, In-house Credit Credits, and Kiosks

• Purpose of the billing system improvements was to implement the BBR system

• Integration with more than 150 companies complete the feature offering of UMS supporting systems such as IVR, Asset Management, Accounting, and Meter Reading Systems

IRWD Oracle Customer Care and Billing (CC&B)

(implemented July 2014)
Previously used AS400

(used during implementation of BBRs)

• Allows for development of customized portals

• Query tool allows for data to be queried at once for customers with multiple accounts and was the primary driver for CC&B development

• Allows for real time daily ET to be uploaded

• System can accommodate a variety of rate
schedules, customer types and allocation formulas, and adjustments to allocations due to variances

• Allows for links to document storage databases to retain site specific information, back up documentation for allocation changes, and images of customer bills

• Water Efficiency team required the development of three customized portals and a query tool:

  • Portal 1 enables all budget input variables
    to be seen at a glance along with a year’s worth of usage compared with allocations and links to each bill calculation screen
  • Portal 2 links customer contacts with the premise the customer is inquiring about
  • Portal 3 retains six years of historical usage regardless of the customer residing at that location

• Data is extracted from CC&B and put into a data warehouse. The query tool points to
this data warehouse which is updated daily. This is useful for customers such as cities or school districts where it is not prudent to review accounts individually with the system.

• IRWD does not have AMI and does not utilize the CC&B module for meter data

• CC&B allows for real time daily ET to be
uploaded and used in the outdoor budget calculations. CII mixed use accounts can be billed with real time ET and the sewer charges adjusted based on outdoor use.

• A variety of variances can be programed to automatically calculate additional allocation
based on default volume and user defined quantity.

• The system was also configured to retain usage data at the service point (physical location) regardless of customer move-in or move-outs.

LVMWD CIS Infinity by Advanced Utility System, 2004 • Widely-used in the industry
• Programming flexibility
MNWD Oracle’s JD Edwards (JDE) EnterpriseOne software system

(implemented February 2015))

• Streamlined utility dashboard
• Useful search capabilities
• Ability to update rates when necessary
• Integration of Billing, Finance, Inventory, and
HR systems in JDE
• Configuration to create individual budgets based on different factors such as: household population, fixed gallons per person, number of days in billing cycle, irrigated area, ET, plant factor, meter size, and three-year historical rolling monthly averages for commercial customers

• Developed system to obtain daily weather data from HydroPoint and integrate it into the billing software

• Revised flat file sent to InfoSend for bill print and mail

• Bill presentment modified to show budget factors and tiers

RCWD Cayenta
(implemented December 2014)
• Ability to configure for multiple tiers with different property characteristics
• Allows for rolling budgets and drought surcharges
• Allows tracking of many different data fields
• Took nine months to implement BBRs with previous billing software
WMWD CIS Infinity software system from Advanced Utility Systems
(implemented August 2009)
• Tracks comments, notes, letters, and attachments
• Allows updates of customer factors such as
irrigated area
• Ability to update rates and factors when necessary
• Allows daily ET updates from outside sources
• Allows microzones to calculate custom budgets for each customer
• Allows use of tiers and blocks
• Allows GIS integration
• Can add custom tabs
• Allows automatic letter creation from customer account
• Allows calculation of indoor budget and outdoor budget separately
• Created individual budgets based on different factors such as: customer class, persons per household, indoor gallons per person, number of days in billing cycle, irrigated area, ET and microzones, plant factor, variances and three-year historical rolling monthly averages for commercial customers

• Developed system to obtain daily weather data (i.e., ET) from HydroPoint Data Systems and integrate it into the billing software

• Assigned microzones to each customer

• Avoided hard coding formulas as much as
possible to allow for future changes (i.e.
drought factors)

• Extensive Customer Service staff training

• Additional temporary staff to handle