New York's efforts to revamp its electric utility industry are like a ravenous monster that only wants one thing: Data.
Data plays a major role in many of state's Reforming the Energy Vision proceedings, representing a key factor in creating a more distributed and responsive grid. To that end, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has been working to develop a "Utility Energy Registry" to provide aggregated load data. Last week, the Public Service Commission gave the project final approval.
Combined with other available system platform tools, like distribution forecasts, identification of system constraints and hosting capacity, officials say the UER will assist third party developers in their market research. And it can make placement of distributed resources more efficient, particularly if the registry can be combined with local building stock databases.
"Ready access to information regarding customer energy usage is vital to the success of the Distributed Energy Resource market," New York Department of Public Service spokesman John Chirlin said in an email. He said the registry is an online platform to "promote and facilitate community-based energy planning and energy use awareness and engagement."
The registry is designed to provide streamlined access to anonymous aggregated community-level energy data. The PSC's order is focused on two areas: privacy, and the data sets. On the privacy front, the commission sought to balance data access with the possible release of identifiable customer data. In considering data sets, the goal was to reduce the administrative burden of reporting while also offering a range of information.
The registry will launch this summer, but regulators readily concede that it may need tweaking.
"The UER as approved here is a starting point," the PSC said in its order. "Data reporting issues will evolve and the reporting parameters for the UER may need to be refined." The order directs staff of the Department of Public Service and NYSERDA to convene a stakeholder input process during the first year, and file a report with the commission, regarding any changes or adjustments that may be needed.
In a statement announcing the decision, PSC Chair John Rhodes said New York's efforts aim to spur "private investment into new renewable power supplies, developing new clean-energy jobs and creating more clean energy choices for consumers.”
Utilities will upload the data to the NYSERDA-managed registry every six months, including: customer count, total load, installed capacity for small commercial and residential accounts, and the number of accounts ineligible for community choice aggregation (CCA).
Customers ineligible for CCA could include customers served by energy service companies, customers with a block on their account, and customers ineligible for any other reason. Regulators declined to require reporting of CCA-eligible load, because total load and the number of customer accounts eligible for CCA would be available.
In regards to community-based energy planning, the registry aims to assist with the development of CCA programs. It can help municipalities identify their energy consumption patterns and identify opportunities to determine if CCA is a viable option, officials explained.
The PSC also rejected a proposal to have distributed energy resource data reported to the registry, because the DER data, in the form of initial hosting capacity and interconnection queue data, are already available through other avenues including utility web sites.
In New York City the data will be broken down by zip code, while elsewhere in the state it will be reported by incorporated municipality and county for service classes for the registry's three customer groupings: residential, small commercial, and other.