Attendees of NARUC's Summer Policy Summit in San Diego were encouraged to download a NARUC app to facilitate in-person meetings. There’s just one problem: The smartphone app would violate the privacy rules adopted by commissions in several states.
A settlement agreement filed today with Xcel Energy for its $562 million proposed smart meter investment in Colorado would require Xcel to offer Green Button Connect.
Did you miss our webinars December 8th or December 15th? View the recordings below. Thanks to our great speakers and Dan Delurey of Wedgemere Group for putting these on.
MACH Energy Joins Mission:data Coalition to Support Data Transparency and Automation from Utilities for Increased Smart Meter Utilization
MACH Energy, a leading provider of energy and water management software services and solutions, today announced the company has joined the Mission:data Coalition, an advocacy coalition of technology companies dedicated to promoting and facilitating customer access to their energy usage information to enable increased energy savings in homes and businesses.
Mission:data Applauds Illinois Commerce Commission's Important First Step to Provide Consumers with Access to Their Own Energy Data
We applaud last week’s Illinois Commerce Commission order directing Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois to take the first step to provide consumers with electronic access to their own electricity usage data gathered by advanced meters, helping consumers save energy and money.
Mission:data Coalition applauds New York’s leadership to require consumer data access with ConEd’s smart meter deployment
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2016
The Mission:data Coalition, a coalition of technology companies delivering consumer-focused energy savings for homes and businesses, today applauded the New York Public Service Commission’s approval of ConEd’s AMI business plan to deploy advanced metering infrastructure on the condition that the utility provide both Home Area Network (“HAN”) functionality and implement Green Button Connect. This represents a significant win for New York consumers who will be empowered with free, easy access to their own energy usage data, a key enabler to the use of new technologies that save energy and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Mission:data applauds the Commission for its leadership in implementing advanced metering in a way that will provide New Yorkers access to their own energy usage data – a powerful new tool to help consumers reduce their electric bills,” said Jim Hawley, Director of the Mission:data Coalition. “According to the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy, giving consumers access to their usage data can enable them to reduce energy use by 12% or more. By making it clear that consumers must receive prompt, convenient access to their own data and broad access to third party tools, this Order positions New York as a national leader in consumer empowerment and data-driven energy efficiency.”
"Con Edison makes several strong arguments for adopting Green Button Connect: it's secure, it's a nation-wide standard, and it empowers customers with access to a wide range of efficiency solutions,” said Michael Murray, Chief Technology Strategist for the Mission:data Coalition. “We're immensely pleased that Con Edison will be providing this foundational technology to support a clean and distributed energy future.”
When implemented, the Commission’s action will expand the number of advanced meters nation-wide for which data access has been enabled to more than 28 million.
The Mission:data Coalition is a coalition of more than 35 energy management technology companies helping residential and business consumers save energy through advanced, data-driven technologies. The coalition works in states throughout the country on behalf of consumer-friendly data access policies to help consumers save energy and money. More information about the Mission:data Coalition can be found at www.missiondata.org.
Ed. note: This detailed policy report complements our recent case study, The EmPOWERed Consumer, released in December '15.
Oakland and Sacramento, CA – More Than Smart (MTS) and the Mission:data Coalition today announced the release of Got Data? The Value of Energy Data Access to Consumers, an in-depth report documenting how consumers can leverage smart meters to help solve America’s biggest energy challenge – energy use in homes and buildings.
“We show that energy savings of 6% to 18% or more are possible when consumers have access to their own electronic data collected by smart meters,” said Michael Murray, Chief Technology Strategist and lead author of the new report. “Advanced meters nation-wide have been underutilized, despite huge taxpayer and ratepayer investments. New data-driven technologies, such as smartphone apps, can significantly reduce energy use, saving consumers billions of dollars. In this report we provide a policy roadmap to help regulators use advanced metering infrastructure to reap benefits for customers.”
Homes and buildings represent about 70% of electricity use nationwide and 39% of greenhouse gas emissions. Today’s report documents state policies that empower customers to use their energy use data for conservation purposes while simultaneously protecting privacy. Smart meters collect usage data in 15-minute or hourly intervals, information that, when analyzed, provides unique insights into savings opportunities. But that information is rarely available in a consistent, simple, electronic format. The report summarizes the research findings from 12 studies showing 6% to 18% energy savings when smart meter data are combined with new technologies. The report offers detailed policy recommendations for public utility commissions to realize the value from smart meters, increase private sector innovation in energy efficiency and energy management, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
“Empowering consumers with access their own data is an important consumer rights issue. New meters generate tons of useful data, but it doesn’t mean anything to consumers if they cannot get access to their own data and realize the savings made possible by new technologies,” said Jim Hawley, Director of the Mission:data Coalition and co-author of the report. “An important first step is to give consumers access to their own usage and cost data -- and the tools to make energy savings simple and easy. This report details the policy roadmap developed by leading states to deliver on the promise of advanced meters for consumers.”
Today's Smart Grid Today features an article titled "No one argues against data sharing in REV effort" (paywall). Some great quotes from participants, including our own Cameron Brooks, are captured in the article and in the official transcript of the December 16th, 2015 technical workshop held in Albany. The workshop's agenda included presentations from Mission:data, U.S. Department of Energy, NYSERDA and several utilities.
"This basic level of service [Green Button Connect], which is exactly what consumers are getting in every other sector of the economy, should be delivered as part of basic utility service with any implementation investments included in base rates accordingly." -- Cameron Brooks
"Energy and information are inseparable commodities, and to serve energy without information is increasingly unacceptable." -- Chris Irwin, U.S. DOE
"New York consumers spend $23 billion on energy. Every improvement of 1% represents $100 million of customer benefit." -- Cameron Brooks
A follow-up technical conference will be held in Albany January 20th, 2016 to discuss the DOE Voluntary Code of Conduct, something we covered before.
Sacramento, CA – The Mission:data Coalition, a coalition of technology companies delivering consumer-focused energy savings for homes and businesses, today announced release of The EmPOWERED Consumer, a report documenting how consumers’ access to their own energy data can help solve America’s biggest energy challenge – energy use in buildings.
“Our challenge is how to reduce energy use in homes and buildings, and new data-driven technologies have emerged as one of our most powerful tools to better manage that use,” said Jim Hawley of the Coalition. “This report highlights the leadership of California, Texas and Illinois and offers insights into the energy and monetary savings that residents of those states are beginning to achieve.”
“More than 50 million advanced meters in the U.S. can provide consumers with detailed information about their energy use, enabling consumers to use new energy management technologies to achieve big energy savings. The problem is that many states have not provided consumers with access to their own data from these ratepayer or taxpayer-funded investments, missing a big opportunity for their consumers to save energy and money,” said Michael Murray, also of the Coalition.
Today’s report documents the leadership of three states – California, Texas, and Illinois – in providing consumers access to their detailed energy usage data from their advanced or “smart” meters, free of charge, and the ability to use this data to save energy. Providing consumers with access to their energy data enables household energy savings averaging up to 12% or more. With data access now enabled or being enabled in these states, consumers are beginning to realize significant energy savings, often at a fraction of the cost of traditional energy efficiency programs. And because U.S. buildings represent the one of the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions, the savings enabled by consumer access to energy data represent an opportunity to cost-effectively address the issue of climate change.
“Data access is key to unlocking customer insights and benefits through the advanced analytics offered by our Energy Intelligence Software,” said Mona Tierney-Lloyd, Board Member of Mission:data and Senior Director, Regulatory Affairs for EnerNOC, Inc. “The rules adopted in California and Texas and being considered in Illinois provide customers and their trusted advisors with data access and has allowed us to help customers be wiser consumers and better energy managers. The data access unlocked by these states has meant we’ve been able to help a variety of customers across the commercial and industrial spectrum.”
On October 16th, 2015, ERCOT held a workshop on "Improving Third Party Access to Smart Meter Texas (SMT)" in Austin, Texas. My presentation focused on third party-led authorizations. To understand what that means, let us begin by describing a typical, customer-led authorization.
Jane Smith wants to share her smart meter data with her thermostat maker (or any third party energy services provider). The thermostat company offers energy management tools through its website and accompanying smartphone app. By sharing energy use data, Jane can receive text/SMS notifications when there are opportunities to cut her monthly bills. So Jane goes to her utility (in monopoly states) or the Smart Meter Texas (SMT) website (if a resident in a competitive area of Texas). She logs in, then clicks to share her data with the thermostat company.
Sounds simple, right? For tech-savvy users, the process might seem easy at first. But it can be a pain, even for those with smartphones and lots of computer expertise. Here are some key friction points:
- First, Jane agrees online, on the phone, or in person to sign up for the thermostat's service.
- Next, Jane needs an account on her utility's website (or with SMT, if in Texas). SMT requires the name of your current Retail Electric Provider (REP), your ESIID and meter number in order to create an account. Good luck finding that information! Unfortunately, SMT (run by the distribution utilities, not the retail energy providers) has no idea who you are, so your social security number and mother's maiden name won't provide a shortcut.
- Upon creating an online account, many customers are forced to sacrifice paper bills and receive e-bills only. For many businesses, internal financial controls and accounts payable processes may require paper bills that arrive by snail mail. So online accounts aren't always possible.
- Once Jane has an online account with SMT, the thermostat company must send an invitation by email to Jane asking for her approval to access her data.
- Jane has to log back into SMT, where it might take three to six clicks to actually share the usage data. Most utilities lack incentives to make their websites usable and conform with modern best practices, so finding the Green Button needle in the haystack could result in a failure rate of customers at this stage of 30-50% or more. There may be technical support calls with the thermostat company to walk Jane through the process.
- In Colorado and other states, utilities have lengthy forms for you to fill out before they are comfortable sharing anything. You may need to find your meter ID number (difficult for property managers who oversee many locations). You'll need to specify whether the data-sharing is one-time or ongoing and the purpose of the thermostat company's software, and set an expiration date for data sharing.
These are only a few of the barriers. That's why a third party-led process can be refreshingly easy. Here's how it works: Jane downloads the smartphone app that's tied to her thermostat. It prompts her to enter her address and take a photo of her meter and/or her electric bill. The photo contains the meter ID number or account number that's needed to validate Jane's identity. But Jane doesn't need to know that - she just needs to snap a photo. Jane clicks "Submit," and her energy management service begins immediately.
The benefits of a third party-led authorization process over a customer-led process are compelling. They include:
- There are no forms to fill out
- The third party takes care of everything
- The customer is not bounced like a ping-pong ball between app maker and utility if there's a problem
- The app maker, unlike the utility, is incented to make the pocess as easy and smooth as possible
This week, Environmental Defense Fund's Midwest Clean Energy Director, Dick Munson, blogged about our joint effort to support data access at Pennsylvania's Public Utilities Commission:
"Data access is central to customers realizing value from a utility’s investments in advanced energy measurement, and technology can further unlock the potential. But most people do not have the time to become an expert energy analyst simply to identify cost-effective efficiency opportunities. Therefore, most of us will rely on technologies, such as smart thermostats, and third parties to digest and synthesize meter data into actionable steps that increase efficiency, save money, and cut pollution."
The proceeding at PaPUC is docket number M-2009-2092655, "Submission of the Electronic Data Exchange Working Group's Web Portal Working Group's Solution Framework for Historical Interval Usage and Billing Quality Interval Use." The PaPUC has required electric distribution companies (EDCs, as the utilities are referred to in Pennsylvania) to implement data access not only for retail energy suppliers (electric generation suppliers, or EDSs), but also for other entities who have obtained customer consent.
However, the working group's report from Feb 17th, 2015 is a proposal for serving only retailers, leaving no pathway for other entities to help Pennsylvanians reduce their energy usage. EDF and Mission:data asked the PaPUC to open a separate docket covering data access to non-retail third parties.
EDF/Mission:data comments available here.
Good news about Green Button Connect from Illinois's two utilities, Ameren and ComEd.