Peace Software signs deal in Australia

Service Essentials, a joint venture between Australian electricity distributors Energex and Ergon Energy, has chosen Peace Software's Peace 8 Customer Information System (CIS) to bill and manage 70,000 commercial and industrial retail and network energy customers in five Australian states.

Energex and Ergon Energy together hold more than 10 percent of the Australian electricity and gas retail market.

Peace, which was founded by New Zealander Brian Peace, is headquartered in the US, but retains a development center in Auckland.

A number of organizations were competing to win the contract with Service Essentials. Peace and another organization were short-listed and put through a "fairly intensive" evaluation process that spread over several items, Service Essentials chief executive Dave Thomas says.

"Across all of those items Peace came out as the best solution for us. It met the criteria we had gone out to the market with," he says.

Service Essentials has a customer base of about 1.8 million in Australia, but the initial contract with Peace involves putting the 70,000 contestable customers -- customers that take up the option to choose their electricity or gas retailer at a negotiated price -- on to the Peace platform.

"One of the reasons for choosing Peace is that it is compliant with Full Retail Contestability (FRC) in Australia," Thomas says.

(FRC is the ability of consumers to choose their own power provider).

"It is important to us that it had proven itself in the FRC market," Thomas says.

The market in Queensland will deregulate further in 2007 and Service Essentials sees the potential to meet the needs of the customers there that want to become contestable customers, that is customers who choose their own electricity provider.

At its peak, Peace employed approximately 250 developers in New Zealand. In April the company laid off 54 staff, reducing its New Zealand headcount from 140 to 86.

Some of those staff become "superfluous" after a major deal in the US was completed, Peace says.

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