The E-Access Act Helps Unleash Electricity Usage Data For Consumers

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The Information Technology Industry Council (ITI) strongly supports today’s introduction by Sens. Mark Udall (D-CO) and Ed Markey (D-MA) of the “Access to Consumer Energy Information Act” or “E-Access Act.”  Since the Green Button initiative launched just over two years ago, ITI, through its Digital Energy & Sustainability Solutions Campaign (DESSC), has been active in the industry-led effort to provide utility customers with secure access to their energy usage information in a consumer-friendly and computer-friendly format.

To date, a total of 35 utilities and electricity suppliers have signed on to the initiative. In total, these commitments now ensure that 36 million homes and businesses will be able to securely access their own energy information in a standard format. The E-Access Act will empower customers by further unleashing their own electricity usage data.  

The E-Access Act is designed to help provide commercial and residential consumers and their designated energy services providers with improved and more timely access to the consumer's own electricity usage data.  The result should be an enlivened marketplace that provides new innovations and lower costs for consumers. 

More specifically, the bill does the following three things: 

State Energy Plans: Amends Section 362(d) of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act (42 U.S.C. 6322(d)) by making two additional activities eligible for Department of Energy (DOE) funding under the State Energy Program.  The newly eligible activities are those that enhance consumer access to and understanding of energy usage and price information and those that allow for the development and adoption of innovative products and services that assist consumers in managing energy consumption and expenditures.

Voluntary Guidelines for Energy Information Access: Requires DOE to issue voluntary guidelines for improving electric energy information access in states.  DOE shall consult with state and local regulatory authorities; consumer and privacy advocacy groups; utilities; appropriate federal agencies; and others in developing guidelines that detail appropriate levels of timeliness and specificity of the consumer data; protections for data security and privacy; format and machine-readability of data; and the like.

Assistance in Implementing: Upon certification by the Secretary of Energy that a state’s data sharing policies meet the voluntary DOE guidelines, states become eligible to receive federal support for implementing the new State Energy Program activities authorized by the bill.  $10 million is authorized for these purposes. 

These are not massive changes in U.S. law, and they certainly don’t contain new unfunded mandates or regulatory restrictions.  Rather, they are intended as a natural step in building on the cooperation, innovation, and increased access already established via Green Button.  We firmly believe that the E-Access Act, if enacted, will help further unleash electricity usage data and empower the marketplace to provide new solutions and broader choices for American consumers in electricity usage services.

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