State regulators want to open up the books on New Hampshire’s energy usage to help consumers save money on utility bills and make prices more transparent.
An order issued last week by the Public Utilities Commission calls for creating a new statewide data platform that would collect and disseminate information on energy usage and pricing by publicly regulated utility companies and make it available to consumers.
“The Commission supports making utility data available while implementing strong privacy and security standards to protect the data of utilities and their customers,” the PUC order states.
Creation of the new data platform is more than two years in the making, and follows a settlement last year between the state’s utilities, tech companies, regulators and local governments.
Local governments, clean energy groups and tech firms complain they’ve been unable to get information about natural gas and electricity usage in New Hampshire from utilities.
Supporters of expanding access to the data say it will help cities and towns plan transition from reliance on fossil fuels to renewable energy and allow consumer protection groups to provide the information to help ratepayers save money. They say it will also help reduce energy usage by educating consumers.
It’s not yet clear how much the new energy data system will cost, but its users will likely end up paying for it.
The 2021 settlement allows utilities to set fees and impose “reasonable charges” on third parties to recover any costs for implementing the program.
The new system would be overseen by a 12-member governing board that would include representatives of utility companies, state officials, customers and consumer advocates.
And, in a provision that speaks to New Hampshire’s “live free or die” motto, the settlement requires utility customers to opt into the program to share their individual energy-usage data.
“Customer authorizations shall extend for a maximum of up to five years with an annual notice providing an option to revoke such authorization,” the order states.
The push to open up the books on utility usage in New Hampshire comes as consumers are paying record high prices for natural gas, heating oil and other sources of energy, fueled in large part by ongoing supply chain constraints and the war in Ukraine.
This article was originally posted on Making energy data public wanted by New Hampshire regulators