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United Energy switches on IT projects

United Energy switches on IT projects

Utility company invests $100 million in IT, signs managed services contract with Logica

Melbourne electricity distributor, United Energy (UE), has invested $100 million in IT projects designed to overhaul aging platforms in its electricity and gas divisions.

UE, which also operates gas distributor Multinet Gas (MG), awarded a four-and-a-half year IT service management contract to Logica Australia this month. The vendor will provide an Australian-based 24/7 service desk, as well as support for UE and MG’s desktop, server, storage and network equipment. In the event of a disaster or supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) network attack, Logica is also responsible for handling disaster recovery and security services.

UE and MG chief information officer, Alistair Legge, told CIO Australia that the contract was necessary to allow the company to concentrate on building a new electricity utility network including smart grid systems.

In addition, IT staff members are focused on a digital smart meter rollout and SAP platform projects.

“We’re planning to roll out over 600,000 smart meters to customers and so far we’ve implemented 230,000 smart meters and connected them to the network,” he said.

The smart meter rollout is a result of a major upgrade to Victoria’s electricity infrastructure. This means all households and small businesses are scheduled to have their existing meter upgraded with a digital smart meter by the end of 2013, as mandated by the Victorian government.

According to Legge, UE’s smart meter program was on track to meet the deadline.

Turning to the SAP projects, he said these are needed to replace aging enterprise resource planning (ERP) and customer care platforms which no longer supported the UE business.

“We’ve implemented the IS-U component of SAP for electricity and subsequently implemented ERP components which include asset management. That went live at the end of 2011 and we’re now going through a similar process [with SAP platforms] for the MG business which will go live in July,” he said.

However, despite the outsourcing contract, Legge has no plans to implement Cloud computing yet due to the sensitive nature of customer data.

“With the end-to-end integration of the smart meter network, having control of that infrastructure is quite important to us,” he said.

“We will continue to look at Cloud but at this stage we haven’t found the right business case for it.”

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

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