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It’s Hard to Access Utility Data

July 16, 2014 By Linda Hardesty

energy manageThe Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) will review this summer a request to revise rules that restrict the ability of municipalities and building owners to obtain from utilities the annual energy use data for their commercial and apartment buildings.

A group of Colorado cities, counties and advocacy groups supported by the Governor’s Energy Office told the PUC that local governments and building owners must have access to aggregated energy use data in order to benchmark and measure energy efficiency improvements. The group also noted that Colorado’s rules protecting utility customer privacy are some of the most restrictive in the nation.

“Building owners have an economic interest in understanding and managing energy use in their buildings,” said Lauren Smith, buildings program associate at the Southwest Energy Efficiency Project.

In several cities, building owners are mandated to benchmark their energy usage via Energy Star’s Portfolio Manager software.

Sanjoy Malik, CEO of Urjanet, says his company has automated the process of collecting energy data from disparate utilities across North America then converting the data into a standardized format.

“For many businesses, the process of obtaining energy data is costly and inefficient involving the manual entry of data from paper utility bills into their applications, such as the the EPA’s Energy Star Portfolio Manager,” Malik stated. “In several markets, such as Texas and Florida, the utilities have made an effort to better accommodate multi-tenant and multi-site properties with their energy data needs, but from a national perspective, we still have a ways to go.”

The Colorado PUC was asked to allow a building owner to obtain “whole building energy use data” from a utility for buildings with two or more tenants while maintaining the utility’s customer privacy interests. Currently, rules provide data access for buildings with a minimum of 15 tenants where no single account comprises more than 15 percent of the total energy use. In addition, a building owner could obtain energy use data for a building with just one tenant as long as the tenant formally agrees to share the information.

With 221 certified buildings, Denver has the 8th highest number of EPA Energy Star buildings in the country, according to EPA. But analysis shows that an additional 1,250 buildings in the city with between five and 14 tenants are not eligible to obtain annual whole building energy use data from their utility.

The Commission also was urged to encourage Colorado’s regulated utilities to import energy use information for building owners and managers directly into EPA’s Portfolio Manager database.

Photo: Colorado Springs via Shutterstock



4 comments on “It’s Hard to Access Utility Data

  1. Hi Linda,

    Great article about accessing utility data. As a reference, all non-residential Xcel Energy customers across Xcel’s entire service territory can access their 15 minute interval meter data through InfoWise from Xcel Energy which has been openly offered to customers since 2008. InfoWise from Xcel Energy is administered by Power TakeOff, a leading interval data monitoring and reporting provider to utilities.

    Among a wide range of features, InfoWise from Xcel Energy is also linked with ENERGY STAR Portfolio Manager so customers can automatically have their data exported from the InfoWise dashboard to their Portfolio Manager account each month.

    Power TakeOff also works with utilities outside of Xcel Energy service territory so customers with facilities across the US can easily monitor and analyze their data within one unified dashboard.

  2. Hi Linda,

    We did. Accessing utility data for even the more basic asset types with only a few meters is quite onerous with this PUC as well. I’m glad to hear that there’s an effort to alleviate the rather burdensome nature of the current system and we would be happy to join the chorus…

    Thank you.

    Robert at http://www.myBenchmarx.com

  3. This is old news here in California. Even when the Ca PUC found that the energy use data of individual IOU customers was not subject to the privacy protection when used for compliance with the Ca AB 1103 regulations, the IOUs still refused to give up the data except in the case where their customer gave express permission.

    One possible solution is to incentivize the IOUs and have them provide the Energy Star Portfolio Manager rating (the 0 to 100 score) behind the IOU firewall. That way no customer data is disclosed.

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