New York Proceeding, “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV)
December 16, 2015
Thank you to the Public Service Commission and the DPS staff for hosting this technical conference and for inviting us to speak. When we saw the topic for this technical conference, we were excited to contribute.
The NY Commission’s Track One Order directed continued investigation of a digital marketplace linking DER providers and customers, including the design, ownership, and a customer data sharing mechanism. UtilityAPI is a data sharing mechanism and we are already providing this service to vendors in New York, California, and elsewhere in the US. We have built a universal data infrastructure between DER vendors and utilities while complying with the DataGuard privacy standard. We are the only third party that has built integrations with all current and scheduled US Green Button Connect implementations.
UtilityAPI automates the process of authorizing access, collecting and formatting electric utility data. We also work with utilities to validate, implement, and test internal data infrastructures, including Green Button and Green Button Connect. We use Green Button data, but we can also collect other data that is not yet included in the Green Button standard, such as PDF bills, tariff name, and demand charges. DER vendors need this additional data to assess a site for various new energy technologies, finance a project, and monitor its value after installation. The lack of easy access to data, due to manual processes and data request backlogs, has limited the adoption of new energy technologies and made energy technologies more expensive.
Efforts to standardize data sharing, including the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s Green Button data standard, are helpful but can be improved. Green Button is a voluntary standard and each utility implements it differently, which makes it prohibitively difficult for vendors to use it. As stated in the REV proceedings, securing data for an interface is difficult and requires a skill set different than a utility’s core business. Data infrastructure is UtilityAPI’s core business. We use best practices from tech to make sharing data as affordable and secure as possible for utilities and ratepayers. These practices include 100% transport layer security, public key encryption, and split-stack design.
When it comes to a digital marketplace, we encourage utilities to partner with private companies that are already connecting customers to new energy technologies. Using Amazon as an example for a digital marketplace is not useful because selling energy technologies to consumers is much more specialized. Solar and energy marketplaces, such as Energy Sage, PickMySolar, as well as residential demand response aggregator OhmConnect, have already engaged customers. They’re taking best practices from digital marketplaces, such as focusing on the user’s experience, and applying it to energy technologies. This is crucial because the user interface will determine the success of any effort to involve consumers and businesses in energy reduction targets. A customer facing data authorization platform must focus on user experience so people actually can and want to use it. Utilities should partner with these companies that already have traction selling energy technologies to consumers instead of trying to reinvent the wheel.
Please come ask us questions. The Department of Energy has funded us to expand our service and to continue to support new energy technologies. We are also excited about the two-way flow of data between DER vendors and utilities. We have a solution and we’re already working with vendors and marketplaces. We’re excited to work with the PSC and New York utilities to ensure timely, accurate data sharing platform for the evolving grid. We’ve learned a lot from what we’ve built and want to share our lessons learned.