When it’s your job to manage the electric grid,
your margin of error is — well, you really don’t have one.
Our client was in charge of managing a statewide electric grid. As a non-profit, the organization was funded by the state government and overseen by the public utility commission.
The energy market has two sides: wholesale and retail. This story focuses on the retail side, which involves three entities:
- the people who generate the power
- the people who move the power
- the people who sell the power
Our client was responsible for providing clearing and settlement for transactions among the three groups. This included all data management.
The members of these three entities are called market participants (MP). Our client managed the data and interactions between 500 MPs.
More than once, the organization had found itself blindsided in large public meetings with MPs, usually due to missing or incorrect data. The client would then have to scramble to correct the errors.
Because of the immensity of the project, and its critical nature in providing power to the entire state, there was no margin for error. Sense Corp had to thoroughly vet and test all of its changes.
The turning point: Sense Corp discovered that the client was approaching the issue from a purely technical standpoint, assigning a coder to tackle the problem.
Continuing to throw technical answers at an analytical problem is futile.
In short, the client simply lacked the analytical and technical expertise to fix the root problem. They needed fresh thinking.
For starters, we gave the client a process for detecting problems first–and being ready with solutions.
Our end-to-end solution included creating the new process, implementing it and then helping the client build a team to execute it.
But our contributions didn’t stop there.
We changed the way the client looked at MPs. Instead of perceiving them as three distinct entities, they learned to see them as valued components of an interrelated group—more of a macro view.
We also gave the client a business vocabulary to use when interacting with MPs. This helped instill confidence in their solutions.
Also, the sensitive interrelations between these government organizations had to be considered.
For instance, since the public utility commission also functioned as an auditor, our client tended to keep them at arm’s length.
We, however, encouraged them to cultivate a real relationship with the commission. As the new process gave the client more confidence in the accuracy of their data, they started to be more transparent with the commission, which improved efficiency and communications all around.
Our solution has had far-reaching benefits.
Previously, many of our client’s minor discrepancies had ended up costing the MPs a lot of money (having to resend bills to consumers to correct errors, issuing refunds, etc.). Our solution has ensured that transactions add up and are properly linked to the right entities. This eliminates costly extra steps for the client as well as the MPs—ultimately saving the taxpayer money.
It’s worth mentioning that the client was so impressed by our consultants that they asked us if they could hire them (we get that a lot). Instead, we partnered with the client to help them build a team of their own, hand-selecting candidates and training them in the new process.