As smart meters roll out across the country, we stand on the horizon of a bright and innovative energy future. Part of the smart grid’s benefits are systemic: stronger grid resiliency, increased reliability, fewer outages, decreased peak energy load, and lower utility operating costs.
But benefits also accrue to the individual customer—and that is where things get exciting. Smart meters promise greater energy control and savings for consumers. With a digital meter, customers should ideally be able to see usage in real time, make adjustments to their energy consumption, and save accordingly.
All this, however, depends on customers being able to access their own individual usage data. And although 50 million smart meters have been installed across the country, many states are falling behind in sharing that data with customers, according to a new report from More Than Smart and Mission:Data.
Fortunately, Illinois is taking the lead on the matter. In the summer of 2014, CUB and the Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed with regulators an “Open Data Access Framework” that would ensure customers can quickly obtain smart-meter data in convenient, user-friendly formats, either directly from the electric meter itself or through the Internet, a web portal, or mobile applications. It would make Illinois the first state in the nation to require utilities to adopt a national data access standard like the Green Button, an industry-led energy data standardization effort launched in 2012. (CUB expects a final ruling from the Illinois Commerce Commission in the spring.)
Studies show that giving customers access to their data can lead to energy savings of 6-18 percent, according to the report. We’ve got the smart meters (or soon will). Now it’s time to use them, and reap the environmental and financial rewards!