Cox Enterprises Cuts Energy Spend with Urjanet Utility Data
"Now we can deliver subsidiary-level reports with carbon emissions figures, and continuously measure progress against our goals." - Robert Fairey, Director of Energy Procurement at Cox Enterprises
Cox Enterprises is a privately-held, media, communications, and automotive services conglomerate whose major operating subsidiaries include Cox Communications and Cox Media Group, among several others. Its flagship subsidiary, Cox Communications, is the third-largest cable TV provider in the United States, serving more than 6 million customers. Cox Enterprises employs more than 50,000 people globally and boasts annual revenues of nearly $16B.
Cox Enterprises spends around $100M annually on electricity and natural gas. The company needed better visibility on energy consumption and pricing for more than 30,000 separate accounts across 190 utility providers in the U.S. market.
Historically, Cox had been using spreadsheets and collecting data by contacting Cox’s operations and accounting employees at their subsidiary companies across the US. After spending time studying the process and evaluating multiple products, Cox decided to build an internal Energy Dashboard with their inhouse business intelligence team. But they still needed information to populate their energy data warehouse. The company needed a flexible, cost-effective solution that could quickly provide a snapshot of current energy consumption and spending, as well as a comprehensive, accurate picture over time.
“We looked at many companies that wanted to sell us their solution,” says Fairey, “but the products did not allow us the data connectivity we needed for our energy dashboard. They wanted to pay our bills, put us on their dashboard and push us into a model that did not really help us get smarter around our energy rates, pricing, and consumption. That’s when we were introduced to Urjanet.”
Urjanet’s solution provides Cox a customizable data feed that enables the company to collect, reconcile, analyze, and report on energy consumption and costs. Cobb Pearson, Energy Procurement Manager at Cox Enterprises says, “It used to be a very slow, manual, static process – now we have the capability to have information delivered to us instantly…it’s automated, easy-to-use, and works extremely well with our in-house systems and business processes.” Urjanet’s solution also supports Cox Conserves, the company’s corporate sustainability program, which aims to reduce Cox’s carbon footprint by 20 percent: “Now we can deliver subsidiary-level reports with carbon emissions figures, and continuously measure
progress against our goals,” says Fairey.
Cox chose Urjanet’s solution over in-house or other external options based on its key selection criteria. Says Fairey, “Urjanet was our best option in terms of service quality, flexibility, and cost. They really listened to our service requirements and adapted to our needs, and their technology has made it extremely easy to add new accounts in order to get a standardized feed for our entire business.” Urjanet was also more competitive on the basis of cost; other products Cox evaluated were considerably higher on a per account basis.
The added visibility from the data feed translates into faster, better decisions in what is a highly complex environment. For example, Cox has been able to locate “zero-kWh” consumption assets that the company was paying for but no longer using. The company can also quickly detect savings opportunities. Says Fairey, “Right off the bat, we found $4,000 in rate savings by moving a handful of accounts to an alternate rate. Now extend that kind of scrutiny across all utilities, and you are looking at substantial cost savings potential.”
In addition, multiple Cox users all over the country can now execute daily runs on billing cycles from the previous day. Getting current visibility of consumption means Cox can evaluate more purchasing options such as block-and-index or swing tolerances around baseline energy levels. Instead of entering into full-requirements contracts, Cox can get much more granular with suppliers and take advantage of more tailored energy products, which translates into lower costs for Cox’s operations.
Data from Urjanet helps Cox accurately measure and quantify its energy-related carbon emissions. Previously it was a real challenge for Cox to produce summary reports for subsidiaries and business units. Cox is now able to collect and analyze energy consumption and carbon emissions data for the entire corporation and has significantly reduced consulting fees for carbon audits. “When we publish the numbers now, we do so with a very high degree of confidence,” says Fairey. Cox Enterprises plans to double the volume of utility accounts supported by Urjanet’s product in 2011, and the company is “currently showcasing their solution using Urjanet’s data feed to many other Fortune 500 companies,” says Fairey.
- Reconciled utility bank debits with actual billing in near real time
- Determined monthly and seasonal billing averages to forecast demand
- Managed emerging energy data and devices (alternative energy, smart meters)
- Generated customized reports on energy usage to evaluate the effectiveness of energy conservation projects
- Calculated and tracked the corporate carbon footprint
- Integrated data management and reporting directly into Cox Energy Dashboard systems