Do Utility Companies Own Your Electric Data?

by ‐ Tags: current events, alternative energy

 

Collecting electricity data is an essential part of tracking and benchmarking a building's energy efficiency--something we do daily at WegoWise--but utility companies don't always make it easy. Even if you have access to the data online, it can be difficult or impossible to share with a third party, such as an energy auditor or a mortgage lender. 

A bill working its way through congress that could make collecting and sharing electricity usage and cost data much more simple. The "Electric Consumer Right to Know Act" also known as "e-KNOW", was introduced in May by Colorado Senator Mark Udall and our own Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, and serves as an amendment to the the 1978 Public Utility Regulatory Act. The bill mandates that utilities must provide their customers their own electricity data in whatever format it’s available, as soon as possible. It also makes it clear that customers own their own energy data, and are entitled to share it with third parties of their choosing.  

If this act passes, part of our job at WegoWise becomes much simpler and we can get our users information about how their building are performing, like the electric benchmark below, much more quickly.

electric use benchmark

In support of the bill, the Demand Response and Smart Grid Coallition(DRSG), a trade association for companies that provide products and services in the areas of demand response, smart meters and smart grid technologies, cited a 2006 study that claims 5-15% savings as a result of direct and indirect energy information feedback. Some of the members of DRSG activley lobbying for this bill include Google, Oracle, EnerNoc, and Johnson Controls. The large and diverse group of interested companies pushing for E-Know is a testiment to the powerful market-changing effects this bill could have on energy efficiency services in the United States. 

Although we are very excited about the potential of e-know, in an ideal world the bill would cover all utility data, not just electric data. But it's a start and can set a precedent that allows for other types of utility data to be covered by this act.

Increasingly, data is driving decisions in all aspects of our lives and it's nice to see congress recognize that opening access to energy data could provide a powerful boost to energy efficiency efforts in the US.