Premjith Lakshman Singh – South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority
- Written by: David Harry
- Produced by: Zachary Brann & Peter Holt
- Estimated reading time: 4 mins
It could have been a catastrophe for the owner of the rental property in Connecticut, recalls Premjith Lakshman Singh. A tenant had left the water running, and even if it didn’t cause flooding, the owner would have seen a spike in the water bill—money flowing down the drain.
Instead, the property owner got an alert from the South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority about increased water use. The faucet was turned off and the expense and possible damage were avoided.
Alerts to customers, more advanced metering, online customer experience surveys and innovative pipe protection plans are a few of the efforts Singh is leading as chief information digital officer and vice president of customer care at the RWA.
“The RWA is pushing beyond the traditional role of a water utility by transforming into a 21st-century environmental services company with a greater focus on the customer,” Singh says. “In doing so, we are tapping innovation, technology and differentiated products and services. ”
A long, wet tradition
Founded in 1849 as the New Haven Water Co., the nonprofit South Central Connecticut Regional Water Authority, known as RWA, currently has 116,000 accounts and serves more than 430,000 customers in and around New Haven.
The RWA provides about 43 million gallons of water daily and owns and protects more than 27,000 acres of watershed lands. Singh has helped develop the RWA Innovation Hub with four centers of excellence—meter to cash, recruit to retire, procure to pay and source to consumption.
“The productivity improvements and work efficiencies that come out of our innovation hub end up having a big impact on the enterprise,” Singh says, adding that an impending move from quarterly to monthly billing will help customers better manage their water bills, track water use, and identify potential issues with leaks.
Singh is also working with other RWA leaders to address aging workforce challenges. Efforts include public utility management programs with two local universities and internship opportunities for area college students.
Apps and protection
Following the 2018 installation of new AMI meters that transmit usage data and information to RWA (eliminating the need to read them manually), the utility is making other operations and technology changes to make it easier for people to do business with the RWA.
For instance, an app and portal launching later this year will enable customers to pay bills from any device, enroll in new products and services, and review and analyze their water usage. Singh and his team are also responsible for leading the company’s pipe protection programs, which lessen rate increases for customers.
As he notes, RWA maintains water service from the main in the street to the curb valve on an account holder’s property. Beyond that, leaks, clogs or breaks are the customer’s liability, and repairs may not be covered by a property owner’s insurance. So RWA offers three PipeSafe plans—ranging from $5 to $16.50 per month—protecting water, sewer, septic and interior plumbing problems.
Customers can get up to $5,000 of protection for covered repairs, including restoration of lawns, driveways or walkways that were disrupted during repairs.
Since 1999, PipeSafe has enrolled more than 120,000 customers and RWA is now looking to extend it beyond the utility’s service area. Singh will be responsible for adding the technology to enroll, bill and serve customers in real time.
“Through technology, we’re changing the face of how we operate,” Singh says. “We see and understand how innovation and technology help customers have better experience with us.”
IT and utilities
While Singh earned his bachelor’s degree in computer science and engineering from the University of Madras in 2000, he began his career in 1999 as a senior IT consultant and software systems engineer for Synergy Login Systems in Chennai, India. In 2002, he became a senior technology business lead consultant for Siemens VDO Automotive in Frankfurt, Germany,
In 2004, Singh moved to the U.S., joining Avangrid as its executive director for enterprise applications at its office in Orange, Connecticut. In 2016, he was promoted to director of corporate systems and applications for IT.
While at Avangrid, Singh earned a master’s in management of technology from Fairfield University in 2011. In 2017, he joined National Grid, an international electric and gas company, as its CIO and vice president of IT. In 2019, he joined RWA .
“My ultimate goal is to help solve challenges the business is facing through innovation, technology and transformation,” Singh says. “While at the same time, I’m supporting the people I work with so that they can do their best on behalf of our customers and communities.”
View this feature in the Fall I 2021 Edition here.
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