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Country Energy Takes the Lead



Country Energy Takes the Lead with Complex C&I Capabilities
- Peace Software’s Energy processing 10-million interval meter reads each month -

AUCKLAND – March 14, 2002 – Country Energy rapidly deployed Peace Software’s Energy™ customer information system (CIS) to compete in the Australian full retail competition electricity market. All contestable/ competitive Country Energy customers are now supported on the browser-based Energy suite, including an extensive roster of 6,500 commercial and industrial (C&I) customers billed on complex interval metering contracts.

This deployment marks the second milestone in Country Energy’s three-phase implementation project to consolidate nearly 750,000 C&I and mass-market customers spanning electricity and gas services in four Australian states on Energy. The unified Energy system operating on scaleable SGI hardware is supporting both competitive retail and distribution billing of Country Energy customers.

Country Energy, formed in July 2001 by the merger of Advance Energy, Great Southern and NorthPower, had only six months to merge its businesses and simultaneously prepare for the opening of the Australian full retail competition market.

“We were able to restructure our organisation quickly and seamlessly to get ahead of our competitors at lower cost,” said Craig Murray, Country Energy Managing Director. “I attribute a significant part of our success to Peace Software’s advanced technology and commitment. Peace provided us comprehensive ‘off-the-shelf’ functionality to meet our complex business requirements. Peace also went to extraordinary efforts to assist us in getting the new system in place in such a tight timeframe amidst unfolding market changes.”

The joint Peace Software and PriceWaterhouseCoopers implementation team rapidly installed the new Energy version. The team developed the required XML market interfaces, integrated Energy with Country Energy’s advanced FAST field services system, and migrated contestable franchise customers off disparate legacy CIS systems within the tight timeframe.

Energy can be rapidly deployed due to its flexible thin-client architecture. Because data is stored on one central server accessible by users through their standard browser, Country Energy did not need to install software on individual workstations. The cost-savings achieved from supporting one server versus thousands of individual workstations over a wide area network is dramatic.

Country Energy’s customer base is located in Queensland, Victoria, South Australia and covers three-quarters of New South Wales. The company’s operations encompass more than a hundred offices and service centres throughout the expansive territory. Energy’s robust and proven browser-user-interface is enabling all offices and centres to share real time information for improved operations and customer service efficiencies.

Brian Peace, Peace Software CEO and Chairman, said, “Country Energy is a showcase site for Energy’s robust scalability and advanced C&I capabilities. Country Energy realizes the value in targeting profitable customers and improving margins, and the company is set to take centre stage with its sophisticated interval metering and pricing programs.”

Interval metering is widely used in Australia and reflects the maturity of the competitive Australian C&I market, which deregulated in 1996. At Country Energy, Energy is processing nearly 10 million interval meter reads each month for 6,500 large C&I customers on half-hourly metering contracts. Energy’s robust billing engine automates the continuous aggregation of interval demand data then flexibly calculates this data according to more than 300 complex pricing structures to generate individual bills.

A key lesson from the Australian experience is the value of consolidating C&I and mass-market customers on a highly scalable system such as Energy. Prior to deregulation, Australian utilities typically offered basic interval metering contracts to an elite number of extremely large C&I customers. When the C&I market opened, forward-thinking energy companies won market share by offering interval metering services to all C&I customers – large and small. Unless all customers are supported on one system, it becomes increasingly difficult to switch customers between contracts and scale to handle increasing volumes of usage data.

The third implementation phase of this project involves moving Country Energy’s remaining non-contestable customers to Energy by Q3 2002.

About Peace Software
Peace Software develops next-generation CIS solutions used by utilities and retailers for business innovation in regulated, transitioning and competitive energy markets. The company’s browser-based Energy suite has been selected to drive efficient operations and provide excellent customer care for millions of mass market and commercial and industrial (C&I) customers in 30 markets around the world. The innovative Energy suite can be phased into existing CIS environments and new version upgrades are available every 12-18 months. Founded in Auckland in 1984, Peace also has offices in the United States, Canada and Australia. The company’s headquarters are in Miami, while its research and development centre remains in New Zealand. Visit us at www.peace.com.

About Country Energy
Country Energy is a regionally based energy retailer and distributor supplying power to the Australian states of New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory, Victoria, South Australia and Queensland. Formed in July 2001 from the merger of Advance Energy, Great Southern Energy and NorthPower, Country Energy operates a vast franchise across 72% of New South Wales in addition to successfully competing in the national retail electricity market. Country Energy’s core businesses include energy retailing, network operations and infrastructure construction and maintenance. Visit us at www.countryenergy.com.au

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