Citizen’s Gas Company (CGC) provides natural gas service to 200,000 customers. The customer base is divided into the following three revenue classes
Residential customer gas usage is highly correlated with the weather. Commercial customer usage is partially weather dependent. Industrial customer usage is governed almost entirely by business factors.
The company buys natural gas from 10 pipeline companies in the amounts specified in contracts that run for 5 to 15 years. For some contracts, the supply is in equal monthly increments; for other contracts, the supply varies according to the heating season. Supply over the contract amounts is not available, and some contracts contain take-or-pay clauses. That is, the company must pay for the gas volume specified in the contract, regardless of the amount used.
To match customer demand with supply, gas is pumped into a storage field when supply exceeds customer demand. Gas is withdrawn when demand exceeds supply. There are no restrictions on the gas storage field except that the field must be full at the beginning of each gas year (September 1). Consequently, when the contractual supply for the remainder of the gas year is less than that required to satisfy projected demand and fill the storage field, CGC curtails service to industrial customers (except for heating quantities). The curtailments must be carefully controlled to prevent either an oversupply at year-end or a curtailing of commercial or residential customers so the storage field can be filled at year-end.
In recent years, CGC’s planning efforts have not been able to control the supply during the gas year or provide the information needed to establish long-term contracts. Customer demand has been projected only as a function of the total number of customers. Commercial and industrial customers’ demand for gas has been curtailed. This has resulted in lost sales and caused an excess of supply at the end of the gas year.
To correct the problems, CGC has hired a director of corporate planning. She is presented with a conceptual design for an information system that will help analyze gas supply and demand. The system will provide a monthly gas plan for the next five years, with particular emphasis on the first year. The plan will provide detailed reports that assist in the decision- making process. The system will use actual data during the year to project demand for the year. The president has indicated that she will base her decisions on the effect alternative plans have on operating income.
1. Discuss the criteria to consider in specifying the structure and features of CGC’s new system.
2. Identify the data that should be incorporated into CGC’s new system to provide adequate planning capability. Explain why each data item it is important and the level of detail needed for the data to be useful.
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