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Toronto Hydro Corporation & Ontario Power Generation Launch New E-Commerce Venture; EBT Express to be First Retail Energy Transaction Hub in North America.

Business/Technology Editors

TORONTO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 25, 2000

A new breed of e-commerce venture - an electronic business transaction (EBT) `hub' powered by leading-edge Internet technology - will be the first of its kind in North America to provide centralized electronic data management and transaction services to local distribution companies and energy retailers when Ontario's new competitive electricity market opens next year.

Launched today in Toronto, EBT Express is a $7.7 million joint venture of Toronto Hydro Corporation and provincial generation company Ontario Power Generation (OPG). EBT Express will be headed up by general manager Robert Lister and managed initially by a joint Executive Committee of the two organizations.

"The new competitive electricity market in Ontario has created enormous potential for forward-thinking companies who understand how to leverage Internet technology," said Toronto Hydro Corporation president and chief executive officer John Brooks. "EBT Express provides a service that will make it easier and more cost-effective for retailers and market participants of all stripes to do business in this market. Toronto Hydro Corporation and OPG have the size and critical mass to make it work for the benefit of all concerned, both here in the Ontario market, and nationally."

Under the rules of the competitive market, electricity retailers are required by regulators to set up customer accounts with local distribution companies (LDCs) as soon as customers select their energy retailers. For the purpose of billing, LDCs and retailers will need to send information back and forth to ensure customers' accounts are accurate. Seizing on the opportunity created by the new regulatory framework, EBT Express will act as a clearinghouse or `hub' where transaction information is exchanged, including each customer's name, local distribution company, address and/or change of address, payment history, energy use and cost of power. All of the customer information will be secured and kept strictly confidential.

Information passing through the hub is forwarded to the appropriate trading partner and records of the transaction are archived for the purposes of providing an audit trail and resolving customer disputes in a secure environment. The technical and regulatory standards for the hub were developed by an advisory committee led by the Ontario Energy Board (OEB), local distribution companies and retailers. An illustration showing how the hub will work is available on www.ebtexpress.com.

According to Ontario Power Generation chief executive officer Ron Osborne, this joint venture is a demonstration of the leadership that both Toronto Hydro Corporation and OPG are showing by stepping up to the plate and implementing a technology which is essential to opening Ontario's electricity market in an efficient manner.

Ontario's Minister of Energy, Science and Technology, the Honorable Jim Wilson, said the new company is representative of the myriad opportunities that await businesses in Ontario's competitive energy market. "We're very pleased that Toronto Hydro Corporation and Ontario Power Generation have joined forces on this innovative venture," said Minister Wilson. "This new company would have been unthinkable prior to our government's restructuring of the electricity sector and I am confident there will be many more examples of technology-driven innovation as the market opens and matures."

Excelergy eXACT(TM), developed by Excelergy Corporation, an energy software solutions company, will provide the technology infrastructure for EBT Express. Excelergy eXACT, which already is in use in several jurisdictions across North America, is a solution that translates, validates, manages and delivers data exchanged among users. It uses leading-edge XML as a standard language to structure and describe data so that it can be understood by different applications. XML was expressly stipulated in the EBT standards developed by the Advisory Committee to the OEB. It is a common language used on the Internet to make it easier and cheaper for buyers and sellers to transmit and receive data between their respective applications and data sources. Cost-effective and efficient, it allows more companies access to e-commerce.

"Toronto Hydro Corporation and Ontario Power Generation are leading the way for an open and dynamic retail energy market with this hub," said Cary Bullock, President of Excelergy. "Excelergy eXACT is playing an integral role in supporting their objectives of a low-cost solution that utilizes both Internet and XML technologies. Excelergy is thrilled to be part of this unique opportunity."

eXACT was introduced to gas and electricity retailers in the United States in 1999 as a component of Excelergy ABP(TM) 3000, a billing and customer information solution. According to Bill Erhard, Project Manager, Allegheny Energy Supply, "the management of electronic business transactions is crucial to the success of a company participating in the deregulating energy environment. Excelergy solutions have been instrumental in helping us grow our business and improve our ability to handle the challenges of deregulation." Allegheny Energy Supply, an Allegheny Energy company, operates and markets retail and wholesale electric generation throughout competitive markets in the eastern United States and operates regulated generation for its affiliates.

Owned by the City of Toronto, Toronto Hydro Corporation owns Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited, a regulated electricity distribution system, and Toronto Hydro Energy Services Inc., a competitive energy services company. Toronto Hydro-Electric System Limited has annual revenues of $2 billion CDN, serves 650,000 customers and is the second largest municipal electric utility in North America.

Ontario Power Generation is a major North American electricity generating company based in Ontario. The company's goal is to expand into new electricity markets while operating in a safe, open and environmentally responsible manner.

Excelergy delivers complete e-infrastructure solutions to retail energy companies operating in the global energy market. Excelergy's innovative suite of EDI- and XML-enabled products includes Excelergy ABP 3000 customer billing and information system, the Excelergy eXACT family of business-to-business transaction management solutions, and the web-based Energymarketplace energy portal. Headquartered in Lexington, Massachusetts, Excelergy has additional US offices in Santa Monica, California, and Atlanta, Georgia. Its European headquarters are located in Bristol, England.
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Publication:Business Wire
Date:Oct 25, 2000
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