- The New York Public Service Commission on April 15 adopted a new framework governing access to energy data, aiming to better enable energy service entities (ESEs) to develop new clean energy resources, products and technologies.
- The framework covers both customer usage data and utility system data, including capacity and load hosting maps. New York is in the process of creating an Integrated Energy Data Resource (IEDR), in order to manage a wider range of data, and the new framework will assist with access to some data until the IEDR is in place.
- Under the new framework, the PSC would authorize ESEs to access energy usage data with permission from the customer. Anonymized and aggregated data is also included in the new framework. The data authorization process is currently managed by individual utilities, and historically has not been efficient, according to Danny Waggoner, who manages Advanced Energy Economy's (AEE) regulatory work in New York.
New York is working to meet aggressive clean energy targets, and regulators see improved data access as a necessary tool to grow green resources on the grid.
Improved data access "will unlock smart deployment of distributed resources ... while also protecting consumers and cyber-assets," Interim PSC Chair John Howard said in a statement.
Customer data has many uses, said Waggoner, including allowing a distributed energy resource (DER) provider to know how much energy a customer has used and how much they have fed back to the grid.
System data can show energy companies what areas can accommodate more generation, and where DER exports will require grid upgrades. Load hosting maps will be important to develop electric vehicle charging stations, Waggoner said, and available data will include the capacity of individual transformers and substations.
ESEs looking to access energy data could include solar providers, demand response aggregators, storage companies, and energy service companies providing retail sales. The PSC's decision takes "all of the disparate data standards" governing how those groups access what data, "and rationalizes it all together in one matrix," said Waggoner.
The new rules "iron out some of the differences" between how different parties access data, treating them equally and leaving the ultimate decisions regarding access to the PSC and a consultant that will work with the commission.
The availability of better system data will allow DER providers "new opportunities to get extra value," said Waggoner, as New York has a system to pay DERs that contribute at times and locations where there is system needs.
"Having that information and seeing where the constraints are and where load is growing, can show where it is needed now and where there will be opportunities," said Waggoner.
The data framework will also cover the national data sharing standard Green Button Connect (GBC) program, where there have been past issues with New York utilities. The PSC order noted the slow progress New York utilities have made with that program. Between 2017 and 2019, Consolidated Edison evolved its GBC program to share data with two outside energy service providers, while another 25 ESEs were still in various stages of "onboarding."
"The Commission finds this level of progress, particularly given Con Edison's and Orange and Rockland Utilities' GBC has been active since 2017, unacceptable and wholly insufficient for meeting the needs of customers looking to engage in the DER markets and for ESEs to meet these needs," the order notes.
Con Edison, which owns Orange and Rockland, in a statement said it is still reviewing the commission's order on data access, and "continues to support the secure, private sharing of information to help increase the amount of distributed energy resources in New York."
The two "were the first utilities in the state to implement Green Button Connect and have continued to enhance the service," Con Edison said. "We will continue to help customers share data in a way that protects their security and privacy."
Waggoner said he doesn't know of any other states tackling energy data access as holistically as New York — but thinks that states should be careful if they want to follow suit.
"I wouldn't recommend any state just take one of these policies in isolation and adopt it," he said. "This isn't a lightweight process, and I think it matches the ambition of all the other data goals New York has."
Waggoner wrote AEE's comments on the data access proceeding, and said the decision is "very positive" for distributed resource providers. The group previously had concerns that cybersecurity requirements were too onerous in some instances, but over time "they are becoming a bit more rational since the PSC is also lowering other transaction costs."