Utility Further Details System Error Which Led To Customers Of Retail Suppliers Being Charged Incorrect Rates
July 11, 2019 Email This Story Copyright 2010-19 EnergyChoiceMatters.com
Reporting by Paul Ring • firstname.lastname@example.org
The following story is brought free of charge to readers byEC Infosystems, the exclusive EDI provider of EnergyChoiceMatters.com
In compliance with a directive from the Connecticut PURA, Connecticut Light and Power d/b/a Eversource Energy filed a detailed description of a system error which resulted in the customers of retail electric suppliers being charged an incorrect rate because CL&P's customer care system did not capture updated rates submitted by the suppliers, even though CL&P's EDI system sent suppliers an echo accepting the price change
PURA previously approved the content of a notice to be sent to affected customers regarding the error (see story here)
In its detailed description of the issues, CL&P reported that Eversource’s information technology (IT) platform runs a nightly update to make changes to its systems, including updates from suppliers coming into Eversource’s system via the Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) interface.
On June 3, 2019, this nightly update ran with an incorrect version of the underlying computer code due to a computer code migration issue. Specifically, an incorrect version of computer code was inadvertently moved out of the testing environment and into the production environment where it ran as part of Eversource’s systems update that night. As a result, the Eversource Customer Service (C2) system did not update the price adjustments that were transmitted and instead held the price currently in the system for billing, which means the C2 system then billed customers using the price that was in the system prior to the suppliers’ June 3, 2019 price changes.
On June 3, 2019, Eversource identified that a code error had occurred, and immediate actions were taken to correct the code issue for future nightly system updates. "However, Eversource was not aware at that time that, due to this code error, supplier information, including pricing, had not been updated in the C2 system. This is because the nightly system update appeared to be complete with respect to supplier information that was transmitted via the EDI and had not been rejected with an error code," CL&P said
On June 21, 2019, a supplier brought the EDI issue to the Company’s attention and provided two examples of accounts showing that the supplier sent a price change request via EDI on June 3, 2019. In both cases, the Eversource system had echoed price change transactions to each supplier, indicating acceptance of their transaction(s). However, the C2 system had not updated the price adjustments that were transmitted and instead had held the price currently in the system for billing. The C2 system had then billed the customer using the price that was in the system prior to the supplier’s June 3, 2019 price change.
"Immediately, Eversource investigated the issue, alerted the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority ('PURA') via undocketed correspondence, and took proactive steps to correct the supplier pricing and other information in the C2 system effective the next billing cycle. Eversource also took immediate steps to develop proactive communications to affected customers and to make all corrective adjustments. As the Company has reported to PURA, to correct this issue, 246 customers will receive a credit with an average credit amount of $8.11, and 123 customers will receive a debit with an average debit amount of $15.54," CL&P reported
CL&P also detailed the steps it has taken to ensure the error cannot occur again
"When Eversource became aware of the EDI issue, Eversource immediately identified and implemented process changes to ensure this issue does not reoccur. Eversource’s IT developers use a checklist to confirm that certain requirements have been completed for each computer code change that moves out of the testing environment and into the production environment where it is actually utilized by Eversource’s systems. This checklist has been updated as a result of the computer code migration issue described above to ensure that the issue does not reoccur. Specifically, the checklist has now been updated to require a member of the IT development team to compare manually the version of computer code in the testing environment with the version of computer code that is being moved into the production environment to confirm that the correct piece of code is being moved. A completed checklist containing this confirmation is now required to be attached to each code migration request before the requested code is moved. This manual confirmation is in addition to a comparison that is already run by the computer system itself," CL&P said
"Additionally, another new process has been implemented for any code migration request that involves supplier EDI information. Specifically, the Company now requires that a full test is run after the new code is in effect to ensure that the code is running properly with respect to a supplier’s EDI information," CL&P said