DISTRIBUTECH, TAMPA, Fla. 22-JAN-2008 05:00 AM - Oracle today announced that Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) is using Oracle(r) Utilities Customer Care and Billing on an Oracle enterprise grid to power the largest smart meter initiative in the United States to date, helping businesses and households become more energy-efficient and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
PG&E serves approximately 15 million people in Northern and Central California. Each day, the company prints and mails more than 260,000 bills and processes about $40 million in payments. It receives about 15 million calls each year. Launched this year, the PG&E SmartMeter(tm) initiative will allow the utility to replace monthly, in-person meter reads with automatic reads to improve customer service, restore power more quickly during outages and help reduce peak electricity demand. During the next five years, PG&E will upgrade more than 10 million customer meters to enable frequent meter reads (daily for gas, hourly or 15-minute intervals for electric). The volume of meter reads will grow from four million to 120 million meter reads per month for gas and from five million to 3.6 billion meter reads per month for electric.
The company will rely on Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing to maintain and manage both the meter inventory and customer information - converting the raw data into billable usage and generating bills based on each customer's selected rate option/program. The application will allow PG&E to provide its SmartMeter(tm) customers with detailed usage information they can use both to better understand and manage their bills, and to participate in future energy efficiency and demand-response programs.
More than 2,300 PG&E employees already use Oracle Utilities Customer Care and Billing to manage billing, payments, credit/collections and meter inventory, as well as to support operational systems including field-work dispatch and outage management.
New Grid Infrastructure Supports Growing Data Volume and SmartMeter(tm) Program
To support its new systems and increasing customer demands, PG&E required an IT infrastructure that could meet stringent performance and availability requirements, and scale to meet SmartMeter(tm) rollout plans in a cost-efficient manner. In addition to upgrading more than 10 million meters with SmartMeter(tm) technology, the company's 20-terabyte database is expected to grow to 45 terabytes as the SmartMeter(tm) program rolls out to the millions of PG&E customers.
To address these challenges, PG&E recently transitioned from a mainframe environment (IBM DB2 running on OS/390) to an enterprise grid using Oracle Database and Oracle Real Application Clusters (RAC) running on UNIX servers. The UNIX servers run on IBM System p570s in an eight-node Oracle RAC cluster, dramatically increasing computational capacity over the previous mainframe system while also reducing environmental data center costs by 50 percent. PG&E expects to save $5 million each year with the new system.
With its enterprise grid, PG&E has deployed a single database across a cluster of servers, improving system performance and availability. PG&E can easily add capacity on demand to incrementally scale out server and storage capacity in a cost-efficient manner. PG&E also uses several Oracle Database features such as Oracle Automatic Storage Management, Oracle Recovery Manager and Oracle Flashback to simplify database administration and enhance backup and recovery capabilities.
The migration from a mainframe to an Oracle enterprise grid is allowing PG&E to reduce infrastructure costs and support the SmartMeter(tm) initiative by providing the ability to incrementally scale the database to support growing data volumes and users within each workload area and aligning appropriate computing resources within the grid to meet business requirements. The new system will also allow PG&E to reduce downtime from scheduled outages, minimize reliance on backup tapes for first-tier recovery and improve resource utilization across the board.
"We are pleased to support PG&E as it continues to provide innovative services to its customers," said Quentin Grady, senior vice president and general manager, Oracle Utilities. "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(tm) initiative."