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Learn how DataNOW can help your organization with water conservation
May 19, 2015

By now we have all heard of the drought out in the West, with California being especially hard hit. In fact, Governor Jerry Brown has ordered cities and towns in the drought-ravaged state to reduce usage by 25%. That’s why we’d like to remind our DataNOW users of a long forgotten module in our Utility Billing System, the Conservation module, which was originally created during the last drought of the 1980s.

How Does it Work?
Conservation in utility billing is handled by creating conservation records from the usage history of each account. The conservation records are created based on service and rates. Each service can be set up with separate parameters. This allows residential accounts, multi-family accounts and commercial accounts to have different conservation targets. Conservation can be handled in two ways: penalizing accounts that exceed the conservation targets or rebating accounts that meet conservation targets.
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Creating Conservation Records: Usage History and Target Usage
The usage history is used to create the conservation record. The conservation record will contain the actual usage, reading period and reading dates. The daily usage is then multiplied by the number of reading days in the period to find the target usage for the current period. This target usage is then adjusted by the conservation percent. If the new target usage is then less than the minimum amount, the minimum usage is used.

The conservation record starts with the real usage for the period. From this usage, a target usage is computed. This target usage is computed from the daily usage. All calculations for consumption are based on daily averages. This is because most reading periods will be for different number of days. Readings for one month might be for 27 days while the next month they might be for 32 days. This difference could be large when comparing monthly usages, so the daily usage is used to prevent this from happening.

Conservation Rules & Billing Codes
The good news is that YOU get to define the conservation rules your organization wants to set up in the system. For instance, you would set up each billing code with a conservation percentage and a conservation minimum usage. You can also define the usage history used to calculate the conservation target periods. 

Printing, Rebates & Penalties
You can then run a program to print conservation consumption violations or conservation rebates. The program examines the consumption used and compares it to the conservation target consumption. The system prints account information if the current consumption for the account exceeds the conservation parameters for penalties, or if the consumption is less than the conservation parameters for rebates.

You can have the system generate penalties on accounts that use more than the conservation target. You can also set a minimum on the penalty code to not charge a penalty if the actual usage of the account is less than the minimum. This prevents an account from being penalized that had been practicing conservation before the conservation was in place. You can calculate penalties as flat rates, based on account usage, or based on over-target usage.

Conservation Banking
DataNOW’s Utility Billing Conservation module also provides a conservation banking system. Conservation banking records usage on the accounts that conserve. The system creates a banking record for the difference between the account’s actual usage and the conservation target. You can then apply this usage to an account for a particular billing period where the account exceeded the conservation target. Use the banked usage to prevent a penalty on a particular account. 
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Ready to Get Started?
Harris ERP’s DataNOW experts can help your organization implement conservation tracking. To do so, please contact Wade Bond.

Effects of California drought are seen here in this a erial view overlooking landscaping on April 4, 2015 in Ramona, Calif.

Image source: Time.com

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