Earlier this month, after nearly four years of discussion, the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission ruled in favor of utilities determining how to bring customer energy usage data to the market.
- The PUC did not set a standard aggregation level for the state, allowing investor-owned utilities to set their own aggregation levels and report back to the Commission
- However, the Commission did encourage utilities to set aggregation levels and recognized the importance of this data for the public good while protecting customer privacy
- The Commission also asked utilities to track the costs associated with providing this data to customers
On December 1, 2016, the Public Utilities Commission met to discuss under what circumstances utilities could release customer energy usage data without their consent. The docket being discussed had been under consideration for nearly four years because of the difficulty of balancing customer privacy with the public benefit of sharing this data in the marketplace. Fresh Energy has long advocated for a 4 customer aggregation level with no less than a 50 percent load maximum at both the whole building and community levels – or 4/50.
A 4/50 aggregation level would mean that utilities would only release aggregated energy data if there were at least 4 customers and no single customer used more than 50 percent of the total energy usage of the group selected. Xcel Energy has been leading the state in this arena, already offering whole building data at a 4/50 level and using a 15/15 aggregation level for community level data. The Commission encouraged the other utilities to follow Xcel’s lead and set internal aggregation levels for sharing customer energy usage data – pushing the utilities to balance the public benefit of this data with customer privacy.
The next step for Fresh Energy is to work with investor-owned utilities on choosing aggregation levels that help set a clear market for efficient buildings – which, in turn, will drive investment into energy efficiency improvements that cut waste and reduce emissions.
Our key partner, the City of Minneapolis, also highly values this data as it is essential to comply with their energy benchmarking and disclosure ordinance. We are working with the City to help CenterPoint in setting aggregation levels that are coordinated with Xcel’s policies to help building owners and property managers comply with the ordinance. Additionally, the Regional Indicators Initiative and GreenStep Cities programs are both examples of state and regionally funded programs that rely on this data. We look forward to engaging utilities on the importance of this data for these programs to set favorable aggregation levels.