Information Systems for Environmental Sustainability

IT, Resource Productivity, Environmental Preservation, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution

Carbon Mgmt. Software Implementation at AEP Utility

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AEP was an early adopter of CMS, making the transition from spreadsheet tools in 2003. Now, it is ahead of EPA and sees no hurdles in complying with the 2010 regulation.

In the early days, the company tracked and reported its environmental compliance requirements manually using spreadsheets. But in 2003, AEP signed on with Enviance Inc., a Carlsbad, Calif., company founded in 1999 that provides environmental management software using a software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. This approach—today often referred to as “cloud-based” computing—was attractive to AEP, because it relied on externally hosted software that could be accessed by the company over the Internet, and did not require involvement by AEP’s busy information technology (IT) department, McCall says…

At Enviance, Goldenhersh says that published cost studies have shown that his company’s solution can save users $500,000 per facility per year through elimination of manual activities and improved management of GHG data. “We automate data collection, data analysis, task management and reporting,” he says. “Those are the four things that happen in compliance.”

Is this across all industries or only for utilities? What about for smaller companies? Is there a cost savings that is normalized to revenue?

McCall concurs that the software has significantly reduced the amount of time required for data collection and data entry by AEP engineers. “Enviance allows you to put the investment up front in building all the methodologies for doing the calculations, and in using the skills of your staff to make sure that the numbers are right, rather than focusing so much time on just collecting the data,” he says.

Another key benefit of the software comes in its ability to better ensure that compliance activities are properly carried out. “What this software does for us, particularly with this new [EPA reporting] rule, is it reduces a lot of our risk and exposure to regulation by allowing us to build in environmental management systems to make sure that the data is flowing properly and accurately,” McCall observes.

For example, he says, Enviance enables the company to build in requirements and tasks to remind personnel to take certain compliance-related actions. When environmental permits contain pollutant emission limits that are easily achievable, for instance, a plant’s staff may become complacent about regularly checking that level. “But with Enviance, we can build a process in there to make sure we’re checking it,” says McCall. “Even though we are probably never going to hit it, we have the comfort of knowing that an alarm will go off, or that the system is going to send somebody an e-mail if we ever do get close to that limit,” he explains.

That can pay dividends when dealing with regulators. “An agency treats you a whole lot differently if they can see that you had something in place and maybe something just went wrong, than if you were just not even paying attention to it,” McCall concludes. [more]

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Author: nigelpm

Associate Professor of Information Systems, Stephen M. Ross School of Business, University of Michigan - Helping organizations to navigate digital transformation.

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