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Unleashing the Power of Big Data on Efficiency? Not So Fast

As Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI) is deployed across the US, utilities, energy efficiency program administrators, researchers, and competitive electric suppliers are clamoring to protect, obtain, and use customer energy use data. At the same time, the public is increasingly aware of privacy issues and routine consumer data collection. As a result, customer energy use data is becoming a hot topic among regulators and legislators, who must strike a balance between consumer data privacy and the desire to unleash the power of big data on energy efficiency efforts.

This paper outlines how program administrators and researchers use customer energy use data to improve building energy efficiency programs. It also surveys data access regulations established by state regulators and legislators across the U.S. It discusses the types of restrictions that are placed on access to and use of customer energy use data, and their effect on program design and administration and research possibilities. Finally, the paper makes recommendations for engaging policymakers to ensure a productive balance between protecting consumer privacy and meeting research and program administration data needs that move energy efficiency forward.

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