Many businesses don’t validate the quality or accuracy of their utility invoices and meter data, trusting that their suppliers or data collectors data is correct and don’t make mistakes.  Yet, as a direct result of the opportunity to change suppliers, data integrity is often compromised as new suppliers seldom have historic data as a reference for current consumption data.  Poor quality utility data impacts all businesses to some degree or other if not identified and rectified, and estimates suggest that between 3% to 5% of utility bills contain errors, and suppliers are often unable to identify and correct them by themselves.  In the modern competitive supply market, informed customers need to take responsibility for their own data quality.

Utility billing errors largely fall into two categories:  contractual or consumption, and for this article we’re going to focus on data quality for interval data, which in the UK is more widely known as Half-hourly data.

Accurate half hourly data provides many benefits for managing energy, and whilst there are more meters available that can provide this than ever before, this presents new challenges, not only in how to manage the ever increasing large quantities of data, but how good is it, since most of it is rarely checked for data quality.  Normally received in spreadsheet format, this is unwieldy and not ideal for identifying errors.

Thankfully, a modern database design and cloud technology means that large volumes of half hourly data can be stored and accessed with ease.   At Optima we receive customer data for over 100,000 meters on a daily basis in a multitude of formats.

Cloud based Business Intelligence (BI) software can rapidly analyse vast quantities of data in seconds to highlight errors, and data quality dashboards display the results in an easily digestible format.  In the example below, incomplete or suspicious data is identified using a number of factors such as forecast consumption tolerance breaches.  Each half hourly block of data is validated and given a status, so that queries can be sent to the data collector or site for investigation and resolution.

The benefits of more accurate half hourly data are:

  • confidence in results and decisions based on the data
  • timely, accurate, financial accruals
  • enhanced bill validation 
  • identification of anomalies between “settled” and “unsettled” data
  • rapid identification of excess consumption and “suspect” (out of tolerance) readings
  • improved tenant recharge invoices with no credits and rebills

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About us
Established in 1988 originally as a partnership and incorporated in 1991, Optima develop and support advanced software for managing and analysing energy data for some of the largest energy users and consultants in the UK.

  • BSI 27001 certified
  • BSI 22301 certified
  • BSI 9001 certified