GRID — Tech companies to utilities: Give us your data

By David Ferris and Saqib Rahim
December 22, 2016

The tra­di­tional power com­pany is a monop­oly that tightly con­trols the data it uses to make deci­sions on what to build and how much it costs. Now a coali­tion of high-​​tech energy com­pa­nies are say­ing they want the data — and with it, a say in the planning.

A trio of tech­nol­ogy groups issued a white paper Tues­day declar­ing that the util­i­ties’ data is a “pub­lic good” that would make elec­tric ser­vice cheaper and more reli­able and lower car­bon if it only were shared.

This issue for us is crit­i­cal,” said Andrea Deveau, whose group, Tech­Net, is a white paper author and will be wag­ing a cam­paign start­ing next month to per­suade state law­mak­ers and reg­u­la­tors to make util­i­ties open up. “We’re sort of at this tip­ping point of need­ing access to this data to move to the next phase.”

The white paper points to a grow­ing area of con­tention between tra­di­tional power com­pa­nies — cau­tious actors whose century-​​old busi­ness model is under threat — and an array of high-​​tech com­pa­nies who have new approaches to pro­vid­ing energy and are stymied by a short­age of information.

How do you achieve a bal­ance? How do you make sure you can pro­vide the infor­ma­tion but at the same time not com­pro­mise pri­vacy, secu­rity and con­fi­den­tial­ity?” said David Owens, an exec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent at the Edi­son Elec­tric Insti­tute, which rep­re­sents investor-​​owned util­i­ties. “It’s kind of a new world that we’re liv­ing in now.”

The white paper was a joint project of sev­eral tech­nol­ogy groups asso­ci­ated with clean energy. They include the Sun­Spec Alliance, a trade group try­ing to align stan­dards among solar and energy stor­age com­pa­nies; Tech­Net, a pol­icy group for tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies large and small; and DBL Investors, a Sil­i­con Val­ley venture-​​capital fund that was an early investor in both Tesla Motors and SolarCity, which merged last month to become one of the country’s largest energy stor­age and solar companies.

To read the full arti­cle, visit E&E News.