Author: Laurie Palmer, Chief Operating Officer, Business & Infrastructure Services, ERTH Corporation
In the complex world of utilities, collaboration is key. The CHEC Association is a prime example of collaboration and innovation between 15 Ontario utilities, formed with the objective to share ideas, strategies, services and resources. With many smaller utilities lacking the scale and resources required to meet regulatory requirements, CHEC provides a reliable support network to ensure they are able to adapt and respond to change.
Information technology is one of the core areas of focus for the CHEC Association. Customer Information and other utility systems are complex and require a significant level of expertise to maintain and operate. In addition, cyber security threats have never been greater, which is why the task of protecting utility assets against cyber attacks and creating a sustainable model for utilities to operate under became an initiative for the CHEC Association.
The vision was to create a common Customer Information System environment that would allow the CHEC members to take advantage of shared IT infrastructure, setups, testing and even services such as billing, call center, and credit and collections. The CHEC Association partnered with ERTH Corporation, to host a common Customer Information System platform that bolsters their cyber security posture, reduces risk, and also allowed members to leverage ERTH’s utility expertise when and if required.
The CHEC members went live on the new hosted Customer Information System in March of 2021. “This was truly a collaborative effort amongst the entire team and we are really excited to continue to push our shared services model to the next level.” said John Sherin, President of CHEC. It did not take long for members to start collaborating and leveraging resources. Recently, Orangeville Hydro experienced a shortage in their billing department and was able to work with ERTH to secure billing coverage for a period of time until new staff could be hired and trained. “It provides some peace of mind and is really just good risk management to move in this direction. Ultimately, being able to collaborate with other CHEC members and ERTH will help us keep costs down for our rate payers, which is important to us,” added Rob Koekkoek, President of Orangeville Hydro.
CHEC is a collaborative association of 15 Local Distribution Companies (LDCs) operating in the province of Ontario. With a dedicated staff of six employees, CHEC works with its members to deliver support across all areas of operation including Finance and Regulatory, Billing Systems and Customer Information Systems, Operations and Health and Safety, Conservation and Demand Management, and Communications. To learn more, visit the CHEC website.
ERTH Corporation is a diverse group of companies providing a wide range of products and services to Utilities and Municipalities. Owned by nine municipal shareholders, ERTH distributes electricity to 15 communities in southwestern Ontario and has grown to be a leading solutions provider in the areas of technology, metering, construction and substation maintenance. ERTH’s technology division specializes in bill design, document fulfillment, billing, CIS application management, cloud computing and EBT hub services.