Duke picks Convergys for 'smart grid' system

CHARLOTTE, NORTH CAROLINA - Power company Duke Energy Corp. has chosen Convergys Corp. to provide billing and other services for the new advanced meters Duke wants to start rolling out to its four million customers, the companies said.

The meters are part of an effort to modernize the nation's electricity grid.

Duke's five-year, $1 billion plan is designed to bolster reliability, detect power outages and provide real-time information to customers about electricity consumption in order to improve efficiency.

Convergys said its software will help Duke with billing, account management and collections for its "smart grid" system. Digital communications will help customers track their daily usage and what they owe on their bills, while streamlining the utility's meter-reading tasks.

"It really is about enabling us to give you more options, more information; more control in terms of how you use energy and manage your energy bill," said Todd Arnold, senior vice president for smart grid and customer systems at Duke Energy.

He said Duke expects to begin pilot programs before mid-2010. Arnold said the new system will improve communications and help the utility rapidly detect and react to power outages and other problems, such as when a major storm hits.

Convergys wouldn't say how much the contract is worth, but said it could lead to more business as the industry adopts smart grids.

Charlotte, N.C.-based Duke has customers in the Carolinas, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana.

Convergys, based in Cincinnati, provides outsourcing for business services including billing, call centers and human resources.


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