Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment

Knowledge is Power

How Improved Energy Data Access Can Bolster Clean Energy Technologies & Save Money

Ethan Elkind

January 2005

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California will need a strong and robust clean technology industry to develop the product and services needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  But the growth of many clean technology companies is hindered by their lack of access to utility energy information, as well as customers' inability to access their usage statistics easily and comprehensively.

Greater access to energy information could help customers save money by improving their energy efficiency, while clean technology companies, including renewable energy and energy storage developers, smart grid software and hardware purveyors, and electric vehicle automakers could use aggregated, anonymous utility and customer group data to improve their services and boost market share.  However, a lack of incentives and funding for utilities to collect and share data, as well as concerns about compromising customer privacy and cybersecurity breaches, limit greater access. To overcome the challenges, this paper recommends cost recovery mechanisms for utilities to collect and share anonymized energy and market data and historic building energy audits, development and maintenance of secure energy data centers, and establishment of customers’ right to improved access to their usage data in an easily organized, standardized format.

Knowledge is Power is the fourteenth paper of the California Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, a joint project with UC Berkeley School of Law that is sponsored by Bank of America.