On December 20, technology companies and trade groups working in the energy business issued a white paper calling on utility companies to share data. The companies and trade groups included TechNet, SolarCity, SunRun, UtilityAPI, and the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. They say that traditional grid processes must be “reimagined” to deal with the growth in innovations like distributed solar, energy storage, electric vehicles, controllable loads, and energy efficiency.
The tech group argued that grid data must be made available in a readily-usable format. That means online access to bulk, machine-readable, downloadable data. They say that California utilities are currently developing online portals for this purpose and that should be a model. Three big issues need to be addressed: (1) grid needs, (2) hosting capacity, and (3) locational value. First, the tech group wants to know where grid operators think upgrades are needed and what upgrades they have planned. That way, outside groups can propose solutions that the grid operators may not think of on their own. Second, regarding hosting capacity, grid operators only have the ability to host a certain amount of distributed generation or large-scale renewables. That information is vital to anyone that wishes to invest in a renewable installation and should therefore be shared. Finally, locational value is the costs and benefits to society of a renewable installation in a particular location. The tech group wants the ability to share their own views on the relative costs and benefits of certain locations, using information that the grid operators may not otherwise have available.
The group closes their white paper by arguing that without data sharing, key stakeholders are sidelined from efforts to improve the grid. In many markets, utility companies will negotiate specific rates for specific customers, and those rates can often be much lower than the standard rate.
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