At EnergyCAP, we are always delighted when our clients receive accolades for their creative use of our products. In today’s blog, we recognize Miami-Dade County in honor of their recent NACo awards. Read on for a detailed description of what they’ve been doing. You might get some great ideas for your next energy efficiency initiative.
The National Association of Counties (NACo) gave Miami-Dade County an Achievement Award for implementation of a utility monitoring and payment processing system. The Utility Billing Management Program received an award in the Environmental Protection & Energy category and has as its foundation the EnergyCAP® utility bill and energy management software. NACo also recognized Miami-Dade County for a sustainability project at Miami International Airport.
Thanks in part to EnergyCAP, the County’s Utility Billing Management Program is now providing a centralized and automated procedure to process over $100 million worth of annual electricity bills for the County’s dynamic building portfolio of more than 1,500 facilities. The program, with EnergyCAP at its center, has enabled the County to effectively plan for its energy use and to benchmark important trends necessary to obtain ENERGY STAR building certifications.
Through the Utility Billing Management Program, the County successfully implemented a streamlined and standardized bill review, payment, and automated audit process that tracks and monitors financial and energy usage trends for all County departments. The payment processing function eliminated a manual, paper-based procedure, and EnergyCAP’s audit function has automated more than 2.1 million annual audits, increasing efficiency and ultimately reducing taxpayer expenses for utilities countywide.
Utility Billing Management Program History and Highlights
Prior to the initial software implementation in 2012, Miami-Dade County’s 24 departments were reliant on a cumbersome manual entry, paper-based procedure to handle, process, and audit their respective electricity bills. Each department dealt with their electricity bills in a different way, making it difficult to monitor electricity usage and trends. With three different accounting systems and an antiquated energy reporting system, the County faced constant challenges in getting the correct invoice to the proper accounting department and processing the bills in a timely manner. Comprehensive energy reporting was almost impossible.
The County established a seven-member leadership team to establish a single, functional energy management umbrella. The goal of the leadership team was to establish a centralized system for measuring electricity usage and costs, thereby enabling the County to manage and monitor trends throughout its facilities. This undertaking involved collaborating with and training more than 200 County employees across all 24 departments. The leadership team has also developed County-wide standard operating procedures to ensure consistency throughout the processing of the more than 54,000 annual electricity bills. This implementation, education, and training process took approximately 18 months.
Miami-Dade County’s Internal Services Department (ISD) used relationships with various operational partners and the County’s electricity provider, Florida Power and Light (FPL) to bring the program to fruition.
Miami-Dade Program Benefits
By converting all manual entry energy bill processing to electronic data interchange (EDI) processing, the Utility Billing Management Program automates bill paying and auditing into a centralized and streamlined system. Through this platform, the County can now develop a comprehensive electricity plan and measure, manage, and monitor electricity consumption, costs, and customer demand.
The new implementation translated electricity billing information electronically, audited the information, provided a common platform for multiple users (via online or an installed Windows software), and created a bill processing interface for three separate financial systems.
The centralized system now provides accountability, tracking, and monitoring to better address energy usage demands and financial trends. As a result, the County was able to reduce countywide energy utility bill costs, improve auditing and accountability, and enhance overall utility bill management efficiency. In addition to expediting the business process and eliminating manual work, the program improved the County’s record keeping, eliminated redundant data entry, reduced mistakes, and allowed staff to focus on core tasks. The Utility Bill Management program updated and automated the bill payment processes from the earlier paper-based model, provided fast, easy and convenient direct electronic routing of invoices, and made historical data instantly available for analysis and strategic planning.
Through an automated interface with the Environmental Protection Agency’s Portfolio Manager, the EnergyCAP software has allowed the County to begin benchmarking with ENERGY STAR by submitting data for 167 buildings. Having an understanding of where the buildings rate on the ENERGY STAR scale – a national ranking – allows energy management staff to prioritize energy performance improvement projects and seek ENERGY STAR building certifications.
To date, it is estimated that program implementation has already prevented over 160,000 pieces of paper from being created and handled. Based on industry estimates, the County has saved over $1.1 million in labor and material costs through the automated Utility Bill Management Program.
The County now has a modern platform to which it can add and automate data collection for other utilities, such as water and natural gas. This will assist in future County endeavors to meet sustainability and resiliency goals and realize greater cost savings.
Kudos to Miami-Dade for achieving distinction through their utility bill management program.
If you’re achieving success with EnergyCAP, please reach out to us. We’d love to hear your story, and perhaps help tell your story through a blog or even a case study!