Data Access for a Decarbonized Grid

February 23, 2021
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Ted Lamm, Ethan Elkind

California’s electricity infrastructure is entering a period of profound change, with state leaders striving to achieve 60 percent renewable sources by 2030 and 100 percent zero-carbon power by 2045, while increasingly severe heat waves and wildfires threaten the reliability and resilience of the grid.
 
Developers are introducing a range of flexible grid technologies to meet the dual challenge of resilience and decarbonization, from distributed renewable generation and battery storage to vehicle-grid integration, building energy management, and advanced distribution grid sensors. While these technologies are becoming increasingly mainstream and affordable, effective and efficient deployment relies on a key resource – energy data – that can maximize the flexible use of diverse energy resources.
 
Abundant energy data – from grid structure and operations data that depict system assets and capacity, to customer-level data on consumption and rates, to real-time performance data for distributed assets – already provide the information needed to operate a modern, flexible grid. However, state regulators, electric utilities, technology developers, and customers face a thicket of regulatory, privacy, and incentive-based challenges to optimizing the generation and management of this data.
 
To identify solutions to these challenges, CLEE and UCLA Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment convened a group of energy data experts in August 2020. Our new report, Data Access for a Decarbonized Grid, details the challenges facing optimal energy data access and a set of high-priority solutions including:

  • Adopting performance-based regulation of electric utilities to provide financial incentives for high-quality, efficient data generation and management. 
  • Re-examining the California Public Utilities Commission’s 15/15 rule for customer data aggregation (which sets numerical limits on customer cohorts) and considering use of differential privacy methods instead.
  • Modernizing utility IT systems to adapt to rapidly evolving technological and customer needs.

Download the report.

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