On May 19, 2011, a new version of the Electric Consumer Right to Know Act, or e-KNOW Act (S. 1029), was released by Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.), an Alliance Honorary Vice-Chair and Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.). The bill is expected to be referred to the Senate’s committee on Energy and Natural Resources. Sen. Udall proposed similar legislation in the 111th Congress and Rep. Edward Markey (D-Mass.), also an Alliance Honorary Vice-Chair, proposed a comparable bill in the House of Representatives during the 111th.
The bill seeks to ensure that consumers – particularly those served by smart meters, which can record energy use data at intervals of one hour at most – are able to access the information generated by those meters. Armed with this information about their energy use, consumers will be able to better target energy efficiency upgrades for their homes and businesses. They also will be able to see how their actions affect their energy use.
Third-Party Data Access Could Open Opportunities for Energy Efficiency
Notable in this bill is the provision that allows consumers to assign access to third parties. This provision opens up many opportunities for companies – other than conventional utilities – to provide energy services to consumers. Such opportunities could include data display and analysis as currently seen from products like Google’s PowerMeter and Microsoft’s Hohm, or could tie into advanced services that analyze data, help consumers respond to variable electricity pricing, and evaluate consumers energy performance in light of retrofits or upgrades undertaken by those companies.
While some of these services already exist, generally for larger commercial or industrial consumers who install their own metering equipment, the third-party access provisions in the e-KNOW Act have the potential to make third-party energy management services realistic for a much broader range of consumers.
This bill would require that retail electric providers make consumers’ electricity use information available to them in electronic form in conformity with nationally recognized open standards. Where consumers have smart meters (a term defined in the bill), they would be granted access at whatever interval was recorded by the meter; those data would be made available by the utility within 48 hours of being recorded or, where technically possible, directly from the meter. Where consumers do not have a smart meter, they would be provided data at the same granularity as is used for billing and within 48 hours from when it’s received by the utility’s data center. Retail electric providers would be required to retain and provide access to energy use information for at least 13 months after the data was recorded. Consumers could also authorize third parties to access the information.
Retail electric providers would be able to recover the costs of this requirement in electricity rates, subject to the regulation of their public utility commissions or other authority with jurisdiction.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), within 180 days of passage, would issue guidelines establishing minimum national standards for implementation of consumer right to access their energy information. State public utility commissions and other authorities with jurisdiction over retail electric service would have some leeway to adjust certain requirements in this section, and the FERC guidelines would, to the maximum extent practicable, preserve the integrity of and be guided by the actions taken by such state and local authorities.
For More Information
- Press Release on several bills, including e-KNOW, from Sen. Udall
- Energy Efficiency and the Smart Grid, an Alliance fact sheet
- Realizing the Energy Efficiency Potential of Smart Grid, an Alliance white paper [pdf, 232kb]