In the past two years, there’s been a growing interest in the amount and scope of energy-usage data that public utilities provide to their customers and third parties.
ACEEE’s 2016 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard report notes that when data is shared with customers, it can help them evaluate the effectiveness of energy-efficiency programs. And when third parties are privy to their customers’ data, they can analyze the cost effectiveness of energy-efficiency initiatives, which encourages investment by reducing risk.
But with data sharing comes privacy concerns, according to the ACEEE report. To prevent potential privacy breaches, states and public utility commissions have requirements or guidelines for data transmission between utilities and third parties.
As with other types of energy-related initiatives, some states are leaders in utility data access, while others lag behind.
Four States, Plus D.C., Forge Ahead
For its 2016 report, the ACEEE asked state public service commission representatives a series of questions to help determine their data-access policies.
While the states weren’t ranked by how well they provided data access, the report identified Washington, D.C., California, Illinois, New York, and Texas as leading or trending jurisdictions.
The report notes that in 2014, D.C. became the first jurisdiction in the country to mandate that electric and gas utilities provide aggregated, whole-building data to any building owner who requests it. In 2015, California followed suit.
In 2016, the Illinois Commerce Commission directed Commonwealth Edison and Ameren to allow customers with smart meters to share their energy-usage data with registered third-party companies, via Green Button Connect My Data. In exchange for approval of an advanced-metering infrastructure, New York required ConEd to use Green Button as well. And in Texas, all utility customers can access their data at smartmetertexas.com.
How States Scored in Six Key Areas
Based on how they answered the data-access policy questions, ACEEE ranked states in six areas. California and D.C. were the only ones that scored in all six. Colorado, Illinois, and Maine each scored in five areas, while Connecticut and Texas scored in four areas.
Maryland, Nevada, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, and Wisconsin each scored in two areas. Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington each scored in a single area.
The other 27 states either didn’t respond to the questions or didn’t have any energy-usage data policies.
The six areas of evaluation include:
- Utilities provide energy-usage data for customers to download in an electronic format. D.C. and every state except for Maryland, New York, and Pennsylvania answered yes.
- Requirement for provision of individual energy-use data to customers, in a common electronic format such as Green Button. Only eight states, plus D.C., have this requirement: California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, New York, and Texas.
- Guidelines established regarding process for third-party access to customer energy data. Florida, Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington don’t have these guidelines.
- Requirement for provision of individual energy-use data to third parties, upon authorization by the customer. Only California, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, Texas, and D.C. answered yes.
- Requirement for provision of aggregate data to owners of multi-tenant buildings. Along with D.C., California, Colorado, and New York are the only states that meet this requirement.
- Requirement for provision of aggregate data to public agencies. California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, and D.C. answered yes.
“Although state policies can encourage data sharing, the absence of explicit state policies does not mean utilities cannot act,” the report concluded.