Energy Data Center under consideration in California


Michael Peevey,
California PUC
San Francisco, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — November 20, 2012 – Could an Energy Data Center provide the solution to the need by third parties for improved access to aggregated and anonymized customer energy usage data for research and analysis?

This is the question that is being considered by the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) in an Order released last week, which seeks comments on an earlier briefing paper, Energy Data Center, by PUC president Michael Peevey’s energy adviser Audrey Lee and Marzia Zafar, interim director of the Policy and Planning Division.

According to the briefing paper aggregated customer energy usage information is available, but access to that information is often difficult. The creation of an energy data center could provide greater availability, geographically and temporally, of aggregated and anonymized customer energy usage data in the long run, thereby lowering potential utility barriers to this data. And it could help improve state energy policies and create new market opportunities to save energy.

Three possible roles are posed for such a center:

  • A depository that contains aggregated and anonymized data and then makes it available to the public or qualified organizations
  • An independent research center with access to customer specific data that publishes results in an aggregated and anonymized form
  • A service center for transferring data to governmental organizations that have a non-disclosure agreement with the Commission.

There are also two different ways the energy data center could obtain the data, either from the Commission pursuant to the terms of a non-disclosure agreement, or from the utilities pursuant to a non-disclosure agreement with the utility.

Underlying this, however, is the central challenge of determining what constitutes appropriately aggregated and anonymized data, while protecting customers’ privacy, which would be a separate issue the Commission would need to decide.

Comments on the briefing paper are due by November 30. Thereafter workshops will be scheduled in January 2013 to address the structure of the research data center, the benefits and costs of such a center, and issues pertaining to its funding.