Energy Use Data Access

State and local governments can help customers obtain access to their energy use data.  Energy use data is critical for optimizing building energy performance:

  • Building owners need accurate data on a timely basis to benchmark and track building energy performance.
  • Markets need access and transparency to use data in meaningful ways.
  • Energy professionals need data to design and then to manage buildings for efficiency and performance.
  • Policymakers need data to understand buildings and their markets, to shape effective policies, and to track policy impacts and effectiveness[1]
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Key Focus Areas

Energy and cost savings in homes and businesses can be realized with the help of data-driven policy and decision making.  To enable data access, SEE Action has identified two key focus areas for residential, private commercial and public buildings:

  • Support data access to drive decision making. Fill potential gaps between commercial and public building benchmarking tools and accessing the utility data necessary to use those benchmarking tools through regulatory policy.
  • Enable Data Access while Protecting Customer Privacy. Customers can make better decisions to manage their energy use and costs when using detailed, timely and contextual energy use information – such as data collected by smart meters – than what a typical utility bill provides. But data about customer energy use, a powerful tool capable of increasing the success of energy efficiency programs, raises security and privacy concerns that must be addressed.

Key Initiatives

SEE Action provides leading-edge information to state and local policymakers and their partners on energy use data access policies that support energy efficiency in the residential and commercial sectors. These include:

  • Summarizing the range of policy approaches taken by states for providing access to customer energy use information that can be used to support and enhance the provision of energy efficiency services, while protecting customer privacy.
  • Educating regulators on policy tools to enable commercial and public building owners and operators to access utility data in order to effectively evaluate and seize energy and cost savings opportunities. 
  • Providing policy design guidance on benchmarking and disclosure. Benchmarking is a market-based policy tool which requires the building owner, operator, or manager to measure the building’s energy performance, similar to a fuel economy rating on a vehicle. This information is then used to identify cost-effective opportunities for improvements, and can also made available to the marketplace through a direct disclosure to stakeholders (such as a tenant or a prospective lessee, investor, or lender) or by publication on a publicly accessible web site. This approach helps create a market for efficiency by making building energy performance transparent.

[1] Greater Energy Savings through Building Performance Policy

Guidance Documents from the Network

utility regulator's guideA Utility Regulator's Guide to Data Access for Commercial Building Energy Performance Benchmarking

Offers policy options and considerations to state utility commissions in providing access to energy use data to help commercial customers manage energy costs through building energy benchmarking.

This document was essential to informing Montgomery County, Maryland, staff and policymakers on best practices related to energy performance benchmarking regulations. This helped facilitate the passage of the first county-wide energy performance benchmarking law in the Nation.

- Eric Coffman, Office of Energy and Sustainability, Montgomery County, Maryland
regulator's privacy guide to third-party data access for energy efficiencyA Regulator's Privacy Guide to Third-Party Data Access for Energy Efficiency

Summarizes approaches taken by states on privacy and security issues related to third-party access to customer data and provides guidance on policy options for providing access to customer data.

This document informed Minnesota regulators about issues and policy options related to providing access to customer energy use information for efficiency purposes, while protecting sensitive information about customers' identities and utility services provided. As the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) continues the stakeholder process, the SEE Action guide will continue to be a valuable resource and reference. 

- Phyllis Reha, Former Minnesota PUC Commissioner
Guide for States: Energy Efficiency as a Least-Cost Strategy to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution, and Meet Energy Needs in the Power Sector

A practical document that presents established policy and program “pathways” to advance demand-side energy efficiency, including:

  • Ratepayer-funded energy efficiency
  • Building energy codes
  • Local government-led efforts, such as building performance policies
  • State-led efforts, such as energy savings performance contracting
  • Commercial and industrial private sector approaches, such as strategic energy management and combined heat and power.

The guide presents case studies of successful regional, state, and local approaches to energy efficiency with sources for more information, resources to understand the range of expected savings from energy efficiency, and common protocols for documenting savings.

State and local air pollution control agencies will find SEE Action's Guide for States: Energy Efficiency as a Least-Cost Strategy to Reduce Greenhouse Gases and Air Pollution, and Meet Energy Needs in the Power Sector to be a very helpful resource. The guide provides a clear and credible overview of how states and localities are putting energy efficiency to work for them, and what they are getting out of their investment. These approaches give air agencies a broader set of tools to meet air quality standards, protect public health, and achieve multipollutant emission reductions at a low cost.

- Bill Becker, National Association of Clean Air Agencies
benchmarking and disclosureBenchmarking and Disclosure: State and Local Policy Design Guide and Sample Policy Language

Provides sample policy language based on a synthesis of existing state and local policies, and discussion on key provisions, for the design of a commercial benchmarking and disclosure policy.

This document has been very valuable to the District Department of the Environment as we implemented and refined our energy benchmarking and disclosure policy. The guide provides a standard that we can direct our peer cities to that builds on the best practices learned by early adopters like the District of Columbia. 

- Marshall Duer-Balkind, Government of the District of Columbia, Department of the Environment
Energy Benchmarking, Rating, and Disclosure for Local Governments

Provides information on how access to energy use data can help local governments create policies for benchmarking and disclosing building energy performance for public and private sector buildings.