Who Can Access Your Smart Meter Information?
Smart meter installation across the Chicago region is moving right along. ComEd has installed one million smart meters in homes so far, and installs 20,000 more each week. (ComEd plans to install meters in all homes and businesses by the end of 2018; the schedule is available at https://www.comed.com/SmartEnergy/SmartMeterSmartGrid/Pages/Default.aspx.)
Smart meter technology can save households money. A recent WGN report looks at the smart meter rollout, how customers like you can benefit, and who gets access to your smart meter data.
Elevate Energy is the third party administrator for Illinois’ two hourly rate options – ComEd Residential Real-Time Pricing (RRTP) and Ameren Illinois Power Smart Pricing. On the hourly rate, participants pay the real-time price of electricity as it fluctuates throughout the day. The smart meter allows participants like Karen Taubman, an RRTP participant featured in the WGN report, to check current prices and adjust her usage accordingly.
Since her smart meter was installed, Karen has been able to utilize innovative RRTP tools – like a mobile app enhancement that uses her smart meter data – to check current prices and her hourly usage. When prices are high, she makes simple behavior modifications like decreasing usage of large appliances. On the RRTP hourly rate, Karen is able to take advantage of smart meter data, and she has saved more than $400 since she’s been on the program. That wouldn’t be possible without smart meter data.
Third-Party Access to your Information?
The issue right now is who else should have access to the information these meters capture about your energy use. Like Karen, you have access to your own energy use data, as does ComEd. The question at hand is about third-party access to this information. A lot of people want it, from start-up tech companies to researchers to energy efficiency program administrators like Elevate Energy. To this end, ComEd, the Illinois Commerce Commission, and others are coming up with regulations on how the data will be accessed and distributed. The regulations are expected to be issued by the end of the year.
Protecting Privacy and Maximizing Benefits
The best path forward is a solution that captures the robust benefits of this smart meter data while protecting privacy rights. A balance between the two protects consumer privacy yet helps unleash the power of big data on energy efficiency efforts. As a mission-based organization that uses research to design and improve energy efficiency programs, Elevate Energy needs access to energy data. This data informs who would most benefit from hourly pricing, what types of buildings are most in need of energy efficiency upgrades, and how the building stock we encounter in Illinois compares to similar building stock nationwide.
A Local Example from ComEd
We have a real-world example of safe data sharing right here in Chicago. ComEd’s Energy Use Data system (EUDS) allows owners of multifamily buildings to benchmark against other similar buildings, which helps them to identify and fix “energy leaks” by analyzing their own performance over time. At the same time, the privacy of tenants within the building is protected, because the building owner never sees individual customer usage, but rather summed, anonymized information. Further, only verified building owners can access the EUDS system, and it’s up to them to choose to share building data with a third party, including energy efficiency program providers like us at Elevate Energy.
You can read more about big data, privacy, and ComEd’s EUDS system here: Protecting Consumer Privacy and Maximizing the Benefits of Big Energy Data
For an even deeper dive, check out this paper from Anne McKibbin, Elevate Energy’s director of policy: “Unleashing the Power of Big Data on Efficiency? Not so Fast.”