The Central Market Agency Ltd (CMA) is the organisation that administers the Market for water and wastewater retail services in Scotland. The CMA is at the hub of the competitive market arrangements, operating the computer systems that run the Market.

The Project:

Central systems to support registration, switching and settlement in the Scottish competitive water market.

In 2011, C&C Group were awarded the contract for the ongoing development and maintenance of the Central Systems (CS) following a competitive ITT process.

The Brief:

Our initial brief was to take over the on-going development and maintenance of the Central Systems (CS) including designing and developing all new software with a view to also re-enginnering all settlement related functionality (based on our energy settlement experieince) and to ensure the systems are fully compliant with any new developments specified by the CMA whilst adding significant value to its broad range of stakeholders.

Responsibilities were to include:

  • Design, development, testing, delivery, support, maintenance of the CS.
  • Systems and data security.
  • Helpdesk and support.
  • Market participant integration and training.

Solution Overview:

Transactions are submitted to the Central Systems via messages encoded as XML.

In the high volume interface (HVI) users can submit XML messages embedded in a SOAP protocol specification over the internet to the Central Systems via a middleware layer such as SWIM-ware. The Central Systems carry out authentication to confirm that the message has originated with the user.

The HVI interface also allows users to receive responses and updates back from the Central Systems.

The Central Systems also supports a screen based view of the data (the Low Volume Interface or LVI). The Low Volume Interface (LVI) is a secure web portal that enables authorised users to view and submit transactions that are applicable to their trading party.

The LVI has different user access roles which determine the functionality that is provided to individual users; access to more commercially sensitive information such as settlement charges, reporting, retrospective amendments or performance charges can be therefore be restricted to users who require this level of access, opposed to users who only need to submit or monitor market messages.

Registration Overview

The Registration System comprises a detailed database of key data items pertinent to business properties in Scotland with a water supply and / or sewerage service. Typically each property will have two linked Supply Point IDs (SPIDs), one for water and one for sewerage although there are properties with one or other service only. The SPIDs contain the detailed data item information required for the calculation of the correct wholesale charges, and include, for example, the identity of the Licensed Provider, the water and sewerage services provided, details of meters, water consumption, rateable value, and trade effluent.

Each item of data is the responsibility of either Scottish Water or a Licensed Provider (Retailer) to administer. The registration system allows Scottish Water and the Licensed Providers to submit transactions via pre-defined market messages (CSD0301) which allow for the creation and termination of SPIDs and initiate changes of Supplier, as well as maintaining the SPID data (e.g. the submission of meter reads.)

The Central Systems also act as a hub, so that data submitted to the Central Systems by either Scottish Water or by a Licensed Provider is typically sent on to the relevant Licensed Provider or Scottish Water as appropriate.

Settlement Overview

A primary objective of the CMA is to calculate the wholesale bill for water and sewerage services payable by each Licensed Provider to Scottish Water. There is a rolling cycle of settlement calculation and reconciliation. As more accurate data is submitted to the Central Systems, the bills become more accurate.

For each month, there are a minimum of four wholesale bills calculated:

  • P1 wholesale bill – calculated in the month before the relevant month;
  • R1 wholesale bill – calculated immediately after the relevant calendar month;
  • R2 wholesale bill – calculated two months after the R1 bill;
  • R3 wholesale bill – calculated six months after the R2 bill.

The calculation method for each of these bills is the same. The Central Systems software under the technical stewardship of C&C calculates the bills and provides a variety of reports to the CMA. After checking these, the CMA provides the bills and the reports to market participants albeit the market participants themselves have full responsibility for invoicing and settlement of the relevant monies.

At the end of each financial year there is a single scheduled settlement run, Reconciliation Final, again maintained by C&C Group software, which provides a final statement on bills for the financial year.  The calculations for this settlement run are similar to those for the monthly settlement runs, but not identical. Reports are similarly passed to the CMA for checking, and providing to the market participants.

The Central Systems can also be used for various additional ad-hoc settlement runs, following, for example, disputes between the market participants or disputes between the market participants and the CMA in respect of the accuracy of settlement.

The CMA is required to store details of all settlement runs, including the relevant version of the software used to perform the run, along with all input data and all outputs.

What the Client said:

“Thanks for all your work on settlement and RF. We can honestly say that with your help this year, the improvement to settlement and the better aggregated / disaggregated generation, all in all it has been a much smoother and less stressful experience than previous years prior to C&C Group.”

We are very pleased to be working with C&C and take great confidence from their track record in utilities.”

Jeremy Atkinson, Chief Executive of the CMA

C&C Group works very closely with both the CMA to ensure that the Central Systems enjoy maximum uptime and both customers and market participants are billed correctly at the right time. And that customer switching is a seamless experience.

About C&C Group

In 2011 C&C Group were awarded via competitive tender the contract for the on-going development, maintenance and support of the CMA central systems. Via two major software releases per year and strictly changed managed intermediate releases we have largely overhauled the application architecture and code for both the Registration and Settlement systems.

We have gained a detailed understanding of the market and its codes, work closely with the CMA Market Design Authority and contribute actively to industry working groups.

C&C Group has delivered market-leading business and IT innovation since 1987.  We specialise in utilities across electricity, water, gas including cloud based services. More than a supplier to the sectors in which we operate, we have evolved into the leading service provider and are an integral part of them.

We are proud of our reputation for technical excellence, innovation, agility and in-depth industry knowledge. C&C Group is the industry expert, investing significantly in maintaining an unrivalled knowledge of all commercial, competitive, regulatory, socio-economic and political aspects.

We are driven by the needs of clients, not the limitations of technology. So if it doesn’t exist, we quite simply create it. This solutions-driven approach increases competitiveness. Enhances the customer experience. Reduces costs. Increases profits. Provides the value adds our customers need to make them competitive.

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