Hundreds of utility bills, one manager, no headaches. 

Cardinia Shire Council in Victoria provides an array of services, from libraries and leisure centres to street lighting and sports grounds. That adds up to hundreds of sites requiring electricity, gas and water supply from a range of networks and retailers. Each utility account generates a monthly bill that must be checked in detail before being authorised for payment.

Sound complicated? That’s not the end of the story. There’s also the need to on-bill tenants such as sports clubs and cafes operating fromCouncil-owned sites.

Facilities Management Officer Brett Munckton is involved in overseeing this process and ensuring Council funds are wisely spent. He utilisesSmart Power’s services for this important task. 

End-to-end invoice management.

At the heart of Smart Power’s invoice management service isa rigorous checking and reconciliation process. With the Council’s expenditure on power, gas and water totalling over a million dollars annually, it’s critical to get this right.

Here’s how it works in practice:

  • All utility bills from Cardinia’s sites are sent directly to Smart Power and analysed for issues such as missing invoices, double billing, anomalous consumption spikes and ongoing estimated bills (which could mean a nasty surprise in the future).
  • The Council can view invoice details through a secure Smart Power portal but all the complexities of checking and reconciliation are handled by Smart Power’s expert team.
  • Once the invoices have been through the Smart Power checking process, they are sent to Council officers for formal approval and authorisation.
  • Smart Power then manages payments to utilities, ensuring all applicable discounts are collected along the way.

This saves literally days of laborious effort for the Council’s payments team. But the service doesn’t stop there – Smart Power also works proactively to resolve any issues that emerge.

Brett provides an example: “I used to spend a lot of time going back and forth with suppliers whenever we had a query, such as ensuring the correct credit for solar feed-in. When we were managing these things ourselves the emails could drag on for months. But Smart Power speaks the language, understands the systems and knows how to get through to the right people.

“They’re managing the risk and reducing our administrative burden so we can focus on running our operations.”

Making sure tenants pay their share.

A number of cricket clubs are based at Council grounds and pay a share of the utility bills each season. Football clubs do the same. Then there are leisure centre and children’s services operators. Organisations sometimes utilise office space in Council buildings and are liable for the electricity, gas and water they consume.

Each of these entities has a bespoke arrangement with CardiniaShire to cover their portion of utility costs. There are scores of these agreements that must be matched to invoices each month so costs can be calculated and recovered.It has the potential to be a bureaucratic nightmare – but it’s not.

That’s because Smart Power breaks each invoice down according to an agreed formula, and then collects revenue from payees and ensures the entire invoice is paid. Costs are controlled while risks are minimised.

Reducing complexity while adding value.

Smart Power also goes the extra mile when the Shire needs expert assistance with its relationships with utility providers.

“It can be challenging getting utilities connected to a new site in time for its opening date, or making changes to power supply and metering,” says Brett Munckton. “In one case, we were adding a new community centre to an existing library. We needed it set up with two sites on one account. Everything had to be coordinated with the contractors, electricians, power retailers and networks.

“Smart Power knew who to talk to, and how to get the installation completed in the right time frame. That level of service is somethingSmart Power does to help us out.

“We can literally pick up the phone or send an email, and they know how to make things happen.”

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Case Study: Cardinia Shire