Data analytics sheds light on utility cooperative’s investment strategy

Client Background

A cooperative of a public utility company that is primarily engaged in the generation, transmission, and distribution of electricity. 

The Business Challenge

The cooperative is the dominate provider in their region and needed to:

  • provide affordable and reliable electric service
  • comply with environmental rules and regulations
  • account for the trend of decreasing demand due to conservation efforts and customer generated electricity
  • balance various competing investment priorities simultaneously

Their long-term strategy was to maximize their investments in the development of renewable energy sources as well as technologies used for automated business processes such as implementing automatic meter reading, paperless billing, and predictive maintenance systems. 

The Baker Tilly Solution

Baker Tilly performed a benchmarking study of similar sized cooperatives and departmental staffs at comparable utility companies. The team conducted extensive research to develop a benchmark by gathering data on staff sizes by functional divisions along with operational metrics such as peak demand, levels of electricity generated, dollars of electricity purchased, overhead distribution, underground distribution and numbers of substations. 

Using these metrics, the Baker Tilly team created statistical models to show the cooperative’s management team where they ranked in comparison to their peer groups.  By considering the cooperative’s own operational metrics, the model helped visualize whether its functional staff sizes were typical or outside the norm.

Value To The Customer

The Baker Tilly Analytics team used an advanced analytic approach to: 

  •  Validate division staff sizes against industry norms by functional areas like generation, transmission, distribution, call center, and back office. This provided the quantitative data the cooperative’s management team needed to identify ideal staff sizes by division.
  • Allow the cooperative to understand opportunities in day to day operational capacity and relocate those resources into high value strategic initiatives.
  • Provide data-driven resource staffing norms that can be used to evaluate the cooperative’s current staffing levels.  This type of actionable data analytics supports the same operational capacity using fewer resources.
  • Create intuitive visualizations to communicate to the management team and key stake holders, the findings and new insights learned by each functional area.

Business Impact

  • Based on data analytics, identified potential resource allocation savings of $5 -$7M.
  • Maximized the resources and investment directed to the development of renewable energy sources and implementing automation in day to day business processes.
  • Identified targeted improvements of up to 23% in resource allocations across the back office, call center, generation and transmission business units.

Achieving the same results with less resources confirmed the cooperative is now able to re-invest their savings in future technology automation initiatives. 

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