The smart, interconnected grid of the future is within reach – but customers and entrepreneurs must first have easy, secure, and meaningful access to energy data.
Empowering people through data
Nearly half of all U.S. households are now outfitted with smart meters – and that number is growing every day. This is resulting in an unprecedented amount of energy-use data. But it's not often readily accessible to customers, nor is it typically gathered in an efficient way that makes the data easy to use. For example, the information most Americans receive in their monthly utility bill makes it hard to understand what steps can be taken to better manage their electricity use.
Lack of access prevents customers from making the most of new energy management products and services, which translate and synthesize data into convenient, actionable steps that can increase efficiency, save money, and lower pollution. For utility customers and innovative companies to reap the benefits of energy-use data, we need consistent guidelines for collecting, protecting, and sharing that information.
That's why EDF is working with regulators, utilities, consumer advocates, and industries across multiple states to develop practical, data-access policies. For example, EDF and our partner in Illinois, the Citizens Utility Board, have developed the Open Data Access Framework for securely sharing and licensing energy data.
The framework clarifies the type of electricity data customers and authorized third parties have access to and how the data should be delivered, ensuring information is handled in a uniform, secure manner. It also complements Green Button Connect My Data, an emerging national standard to provide customers with access to data that is gaining traction internationally.
By giving customers the opportunity to understand and reduce their energy use, data can empower people to save money and cut pollution, without sacrificing their privacy and security.Dick Munson, Director, Midwest Clean Energy
States are seeing the light
In New York and California, EDF has been successfully advocating for meaningful, accessible data. For example, the New York Public Service Commission recently came out in favor of near real-time data for customers and Green Button Connect My Data. California, a smart-grid pioneer, has embraced similar best practices, which will enable customers to participate in demand response, a voluntary tool that rewards customers for saving energy when the grid is stressed.
Illinois in particular has taken the lead by adopting the Open Data Access Framework, as well as allowing companies and researchers to obtain and analyze anonymous energy-use data from smart meters. EDF partnered with CUB to examine data from the state's largest utility, Commonwealth Edison, finding that real-time electricity pricing would have helped nearly all of the studied customers save money in 2016. Soon we will have access to similar data for a total of approximately 4 million Illinois customers.
As other states seek to adopt standards for energy-data access, these scalable, data-sharing policies will serve as an essential foundation for policymakers and industry leaders throughout the country.
Updated: August 2018