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Unlocking Innovation Through Energy Data Standards

By Ron Dizy, Managing Director, Advanced Energy Centre

Ron Dizy, Advanced Energy Centre at MaRSDD

The term “energy management system” is broad, encompassing services such as monitoring, control, data analysis, conservation, demand management, and operating across commercial/industrial, residential and institutional customer segments. It is estimated that the energy management market will be worth almost $76 billion by 2021, with many global companies now delivering technology and services in this field, such as Google Energy (Nest and home automation), Siemens, and Oracle (through its acquisition of Opower and its customer engagement platform for utilities).

advanced energy data analytics offers tremendous potential to open new doors

It seems clear, in this age of ‘big data,’ that advanced energy data analytics offers tremendous potential to open new doors in identifying areas for delivering targeted energy-saving and -management initiatives—and therefore, a growing opportunity to develop energy management tools and applications that utilize energy consumption data. Enabling streamlined and privacy-protected data access would unlock opportunities for innovative solutions in energy conservation and management.

The standardization of energy data delivery has many benefits:

  • Greater market confidence in data driven energy management systems
  • Reduced barriers to entry for solution providers in energy management
  • Opening access to larger markets that all adopt the same data standards
  • Cost reductions due to economies of scale, with larger markets available possessing the same data standards

To-date, however, this shift to widespread adoption of data driven energy management solutions really hasn’t happened yet. The barriers are twofold: the ability to access energy data and the lack of uniform standards for delivering and displaying it.

Energy industry players are now coming together … emerging as industry leaders in enabling energy data access

Energy industry players are now coming together to create, support, and promote data standards for adoption, and they are now emerging as industry leaders in enabling energy data access. The Green Button (GB) initiative is an industry-led effort that responds to a White House call-to-action to provide utility customers with easy and secure access to their energy usage information in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format. Customers can then share these data with third-party service providers to analyze and better-manage their energy usage. Utilities across the U.S. are implementing the Green Button standard and it is now being mandated in the province Ontario. The figure below gives a simplistic view of how the Green Button standard works.

Green Button Data Flows

Green Button Download My Data (DMD) is a data access method that provides customers with downloadable utility (electricity, natural gas, and water) data that comply with the Green Button standard—ensuring a consistent data format is delivered securely from all utility provider websites.

Green Button Connect My Data (CMD) offers data-enabled solution providers (e.g. app developers, software developers) an automated, secure, and standardized process to access a consumer’s utility data. The CMD method lays the foundation for third-party participation in energy and water management solutions, and is a platform from which a wide variety of services can be developed that can help consumers understand and manage their usage more efficiently. This is an important outcome, given rising resource costs, utility conservation efforts, and provincial conservation objectives.

Today, more than 60 million households and businesses can use Green Button to access their electricity usage data from their utility—but most of these cannot yet easily share those data with third parties because the utilities have not yet implemented the CMD feature.

There are a growing set of companies offering products, services, and applications that use Green Button data. For example, Eyedro Green Solutions offers real-time electricity monitoring and cloud services, providing a low-cost solution for viewing electricity usage, identifying waste, and reducing electricity bills. Energent provides energy-intensive facilities in North America with automated, real-time energy information solutions for reducing energy costs. Their solutions provide clients with meaningful, customized energy information for their facilities; allowing them to make effective decisions to manage and reduce their energy use.

Energent and Eyedro Green Solutions were among the solution providers that participated in Ontario’s recent Green Button Connect My Data pilots. The CMD pilots were executed with Hydro One and London Hydro to test the standard across residential and commercial customers. There were eight solution providers involved in these pilots:

  • MyEyedro
  • BuiltSpace
  • Energent
  • GOODCoins
  • HomeBeat
  • Presence Pro Energy
  • Wattsly
  • Stream

One of the key findings from the pilots and broader stakeholder consultations was that commercial-sector customers have a huge need and demand for standardized access to consumption and billing data. They have immediate data requirements for reporting, internal benchmarking, and substantial utility consumption reduction drivers as well—and they have the staff and teams to act on the opportunities. Chris Reid from Rodan, a leading North American smart grid solution provider says, “We can’t wait for years, we have to move now.”

Some of these commercial drivers are well described in the Green Button video below.


We need governments and utilities to accelerate their efforts to support these standards

“Green Button is a critical first step,” says Trevor Orton, CEO & Co-founder of Eyedro. Trevor, along with many other solution providers, felt that the basic availability of data was stifling the development of innovative energy management solutions and he is enthusiastic about the opportunities being unlocked through the Green Button standard. Chris Reid describes Green Button as being akin to platforms such as Apple iOS or Android, where technology and app providers utilize the standard and create solutions to deliver to wider audiences.

There is a great opportunity to use data to help address our energy efficiency and management challenges. We need governments and utilities to accelerate their efforts to support these standards, that are already in place. Customers are demanding it. And the ones that move fastest will be rewarded with outsized business opportunities—from around the world.

More information on GB consultations

To read the key findings and lessons learned from the Ontario Green Button pilot implementation, please see this final report. A further report on the implementation lessons learned from these pilots can be found in this industry adoption report.

Ontario Green Button Pilot Final Report
Implementation Guide for Electricity Utilities in Ontario

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