SmartSynch Inc. and Exceleron Software Inc. have created an integrated platform that enables utilities to leverage AMI technology to cost-effectively initiate spot deployments of prepaid services programs to customers opting for an alternative to a monthly electricity bill. Similar to prepaid cell phones, prepaid metering gives consumers the tools and incentives to better manage their electricity usage each month by allowing them to pay for it in advance at their financial convenience, and keep track of how much they have left in the “tank” before it’s time to “fill up” again.

“Prepaid services programs represent the ultimate incentive for consumers to become more energy efficient. It is not a coincidence that, since implementing our Exceleron prepaid program in 2006, we have seen a 12 percent decrease in energy consumption among our participating customers,” said Charles Barton, manager of finance at Oklahoma Electric Cooperative. “As an added benefit, this program enables us to offer our customers the convenience and flexibility of paying for their electricity whenever they want, however they want.”

Unlike prepaid systems requiring a utility to install expensive in-home equipment or build a proprietary network to serve a specific segment of its customer base, this new platform leverages SmartSynch’s “under glass” AMI solutions using existing public wireless networks, in conjunction with Exceleron’s Web and Interactive Voice Response (IVR) based Prepaid Account Management System (PAMS). Using public wireless networks to transmit data enables utilities to strategically deploy only to those customers who request prepaid metering while the PAMS solution eliminates further specialized installation and requires no additional in-home equipment. The end result is a graceful deployment with minimal risk for the utility.

“The combination of Exceleron’s PAMS platform with our smart metering solutions utilizing public wireless networks now offers utilities a seamless, scalable method for implementing prepaid services programs,” said Stephen Johnston, chief executive officer of SmartSynch. “Public wireless AMI technology makes it possible for utilities to cost effectively ‘spot deploy’ these types of high-value services to any geographically diverse customer base immediately.”

“Many electric service providers throughout the United States are seeing the value in offering prepaid programs to meet the needs of their changing customer base,” said Bob Crenshaw, president and chief executive officer of Exceleron. “This new platform gives utilities a cost-effective approach to initiating prepaid services programs, while leveraging an existing robust network for their AMI end points in select geographical areas as needed.”