The Maryland Public Service Commission has established a new Working Group to develop statewide protocols that will allow retail electricity suppliers to access their customers’ smart meter interval data from the utility on a near real-time basis. In a recent Order, the Commission established the Working Group in response to concerns expressed by the Retail Energy Supply Association (RESA) and NRG Retail Affiliates (NRG Retail) that while Baltimore Gas and Electric Company (BGE) collects the customer interval data, the manner in which BGE makes the data available to suppliers via the BGE portal is so cumbersome and burdensome that it is impossible for suppliers to access their own customers’ data. RESA and NRG Retail contended that BGE lagged behind other utilities in Maryland such as Pepco and Delmarva Power, both of which allow retail suppliers to pull hourly usage batch data on a next-day basis. The Commission directed the Working Group must file a report by March 1, 2016.
Suppliers’ access to their customers’ smart meter interval data in near real-time is a major advantage of smart meter deployment and will allow retail suppliers to expand their product offerings. Efficient data access allows retail suppliers to quickly process the data and present the results in plain English to their customers. This information exchange enables customers to make a connection between what they are doing at a given time and their electricity usage at that time, and they can change their usage behavior and shift their energy consumption as quickly as possible. Older data is simply less valuable and useful to customers, and makes it harder for retail supplies to “engage” with customers.
Technology has dramatically altered consumer expectations and changed how we buy products. We are now living in “Amazon time” where we expect instant access to timely information, from the number of steps we take in a day, to watching basketball games online, to getting election results in real-time. We can buy Alaskan salmon and have it shipped across the country for dinner tomorrow night, and we can buy handmade cannoli from the famous Mike’s Pastry in Boston and have it shipped next-day delivery for a dinner party. (Yes, I did that; yes, it works; and yes, they are awesome.) The electricity usage data available from smart meters is another example of how technology has changed the electricity landscape, and is in line with the broader consumer expectations of wanting access to information and products quickly.
If you have an questions about smart metering or the Maryland working group’s progress, please contact on of our Maryland energy lawyers.