Energy news from Omaha Public Power District

Flashback

Taking a giant step into the technological era

January 21, 2019 | admin | flashback, history
billing

It marked a huge change.

Accounting machines would eventually take over nearly all customer accounting functions related to electric service billing and receivables for OPPD. The conversion to the new system started with 23,000 customers in March 1958 and expanded to additional customers over the next five months, according to the April 1958 edition of Flash, the utility’s employee magazine.

At the time, OPPD hoped the conversion would promote efficiency and accuracy in billing. The then-new machine accounting would eliminate repetitive clerical detail work and would tie operations to a definite work schedule.

The conversion was not easy.

There were numerous steps in the procedure, including eight major operations. Among them:

  1. The Key Punch Section had to update the master files, incorporating all changes due to installation, disconnects, meter orders, etc., since the last billing into the master files. The Key Punch Section then recorded the current reading date, meter reading and consumption into each billing card.
  2. The billing cards would then be forwarded to the machine room where consumption was checked for accuracy, the bill amounts calculated and the cards punched.
  3. After the bills were calculated, billing cards were sorted into the proper sequence for compiling revenue. Revenue summary cards had to be prepared for reports at the end of the month.
  4. A billing card for use the following month was automatically reproduced, with the present reading date and reading copied into the previous date and the reading location of the new card. The new billing card, also containing the customer’s name, is then merged with the master address card file.
  5. For customers with unpaid balances, an arrears card was prepared during the cycle balance. Those cards were merged with the current billing card and also became the accounts receivable record.
  6. During the month, as payments were received, the cashier’s studs from the postcard bills were automatically reproduced into cash cards, which would be placed with the other cards in the accounts receivable files.
  7. At the end of the month, the new system called for accounts receivable to be tabulated and an arrears card prepared for each customer with a balance.

From this point, the routine would start all over the following month. And for OPPD, another step along the road to advances in the technological age.

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