Energy Renewed: Data on steroids—inside New York’s energy information revolution

By Matt Robison
Oct 20, 2022

In 2021, New York regulators formally started a big transformation in energy data access, creating a centralized state data platform, frameworks, and utility requirements with the Integrated Energy Data Resource (IEDR) and Data Access Framework (DAF) orders. The six investor-owned utilities in the state had to quickly respond to several new regulatory filings and plans, as well as set up new project teams to begin implementation. 

In episode 9 of Energy Renewed, Matt Robison talks with Con Edison Director of Statewide Data Integration Damian Sciano and Patricia D’Costa, ICF Lead Energy Advisory Consultant. As New York’s utilities and regulators lead the way in harnessing big data potential, Damian and Patricia share insights into lessons learned and how other stakeholders around the country can plan for similar orders. Topics covered include:  

  • An overview of the New York data orders 
  • How lessons learned may inform other states looking to improve data access 
  • The importance of value-driven data access use cases for utilities, regulators, and third parties 
  • The evolution of data access and potential future applications 
  • The importance of subject matter experts and stakeholder collaboration 
  • Implementation tactics and risk management 

Full transcript below: 

Welcome to Energy Renewed a podcast by ICF, a meeting of the minds in renewable energy where people come together to discuss ideas and synergies to propel the industry forward. 

Matt: Hi everyone and welcome to this ICF podcast. I'm Matt Robison, your host. And today, we're going to be talking about a major event that may have gone a little bit under the radar for all of us who monitor the energy and especially the electricity sector. Back in 2021, New York regulators started a big transformation in energy data access, creating a centralized state data platform, along with security and privacy frameworks and some significant utility requirements for how all of this would get implemented. The state's investor-owned utilities had to quickly respond to a raft of new regulatory filings and plans in a matter of just a few months, as well as set up new project teams to figure all of this out and to work with stakeholders and to begin implementation.  

In this discussion, which again is going to be available by both video and podcast, we'll hear from Con Edison's Director of Statewide Data Integration, Damian Sciano, and ICF's lead consultant supporting all of this work on behalf of the utilities, Patricia D'Costa, about their experience responding to the New York data access vision. And most importantly, the lessons that utilities, regulators, and other stakeholders can draw around the country. Patricia, Damian, looking forward to the conversation. 

Damian: Same here, Matt. 

Patricia: Thank you, Matt. 

Matt: So, let's dive in with kind of a high-level, 30,000-foot question. Why does all this matter? I mean, first of all, why is there such a big push to figure out how to leverage this data that are created in the work of utilities for the use of both utilities and third parties, and why should people around the country outside of New York pay attention to this and care about all of this work that's been going on in New York for the last year? Patricia, do you want to start off? 

Patricia: I think the promise of getting value from big data through analytics and artificial intelligence has been materialized in some other industries. So there's this same desire to unlock such potential in the energy sector, so regulators and stakeholders are interested in data access to start to come up with new business models, identify new ways to sell products and services in the energy sector. And this started back when utilities began implementing the AMI (Advanced Metering Infrastructure). Part of the value that was attributed to this AMI implementation was the promise of 10 varying rates as a means to optimize the energy use—so balance supply and demand through behavior or new technology adoptions. And today I think it's more about our distributed energy resources and smart technologies that are coming into our homes into our buildings and the promise that data access and data-sharing seems more important than ever to identify these opportunities.  

And also ambitious decarbonization and clean energy goals at the state level, at the utility level, will require a closer look into energy usage patterns. So the New York approach to data access has some interesting lessons in terms of the different initiatives that the commission and stakeholders have pushed over the years and where we are today. So the New York Commission decided to go ahead and implement this comprehensive statewide platform to host all energy-related data and facilitate access in a centralized manner at no cost to the users. And as they continue to explore and implement different use cases, the findings may inform other states that are looking to improve data access regardless if this data access mechanisms come from the utility, from a state, or a third party. 

Matt: So it sounds like you're speaking to new market options, new services that utilities or other stakeholders could provide and really accelerating and enabling state energy goals, policy goals, especially around decarbonization. Damian, what do you think in terms of that 30,000-foot question about why all this matters, especially from that utility perspective? 

Damian: I appreciate everything that Patricia said, and I think she laid it out really well. For somebody like me that's working on planning the system and taking these into account and I think even for the developers that are trying to sell us and the customers that are doing, it does get maybe a little bit more granular so maybe I'll go down to the 10,000-foot level. For me, the first thing is you can't make improvements on something if you can't measure it, so you just got to know what you got. So even somebody that's just trying to step up and just make their energy usage a little bit more efficient, they have to understand what they use, how they use it, they'll put a change in, and then they want to see how that change...was it 5%? was it 10%? was it what they expected?  

So I think that's really important to do. And then when you start adding on all these exciting new technologies, like solar and storage and electric vehicles and heat pumps, it just becomes critical to quantify and measure and go from there. So our AMI roll app provided customers with the tools to do that, and we think it's just a great foundation. So, again, the first one just measuring it. The second one is, I guess it's another variation of the measurement, but the New York State goals aside from being aspirational are very specific. 

Matt: They're pretty aggressive too, right? 

Damian: They're super aggressive and we've got an imperative to do them, so we need to measure them. So we're not just looking at trying to reduce customer usage, which helps us, but also the generation that's doing it, the buildings and what their carbon footprint is, etc. and so on. So again, 70% by 2030, 100% electric-produced by renewables by 2040, and then 85% de-carbonization. So you got to measure. So that's another reason the data is so important. So it's helping you figure out how to make improvements and it's helping you verify you got it.  

And then thirdly, just to get everybody on board, you're providing tools for people, who you may not even be thinking about, want to do this. I mentioned the customers and the DER (distributed energy resources) providers, but there are universities that want to look into this and they want to push the batteries to the next level and figure out what kind of operational performances they need. There's municipalities that want to say, "We've improved our carbon footprint." They need this information. There's energy storage aggregators that are not going to just speak for one customer, but that put together a whole portfolio of people that are going to be bidding into the market. So again, it's just data on steroids. 

Matt: Data on steroids, I love that. That's going to become the tagline for this entire show. Actually, Damian, I want to go right back to you because—full disclosure—just to put Patricia on blast for a second. Patricia, you wrote a really outstanding article. It was an ICF blog post about everything that's been going on. So for people who want to consume all this information in written form, check that out. I want to pick out a specific quote and run it by you, Damian. Patricia wrote, "Energy data access for customers and third parties is seen as a particularly critical element to enable operational efficiency, market innovation, and competition. The New York Public Service Commission, the New York PSC has been delivering this message since the beginning of the Reforming the Energy Vision, REV."  

All right. So full disclosure to all of our viewers and listeners, Damian, you and I go back a long way. We've been working on REV [Reforming the Energy Vision], which is a regulatory initiative that many interested spectators around the country have been following for eight years now. And we've been working on it for a long time, and we've specifically been working on information sharing. This is something the utilities have been attuned to for a long time and has been part of the REV picture since the inception. So, maybe you can just tell everyone what did information sharing look like before those two big orders came in 2021? And what were the utilities specifically doing? 

Damian: Sure. I almost feel like I got to take a step back. I mean, REV was focusing on the market and the customers and getting this small-scale distributed energy resource on the grid. We added to that the CLCPA, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which looks at adding windmills and this large-scale renewables. So it's conceivable, you could completely source green energy and never have to worry about the customer side, but we know that that's only part of it. So those large-scale offshore winds are being taken care of in another venue, but getting the customers that other piece of it where the customers get more efficient, where the customers choose to install batteries or solar panels or things that make their life better and get us that extra bit that we're going to need, we're going to need all of that for the portfolio—that's where the customer data comes in. It's especially important they're where the rubber meets the road and the electricity gets to the customer.  

So the utilities felt like we were doing a really good job with this all along. At least working with the ESCOs (energy service companies), some of our larger customers already have these electronic data interchanges, where they got pretty granular 15-minute interval data, and they could make decisions for themselves. And that led us to put in our MI business case and look to expand this to all of our customers. So we felt like we were doing a good job with that. And REV, as you were pointing out, I mean, it didn't call it data, but it called it the distributed system platform. And it was all these data use cases, which you can hear us use those words a lot. So now we got the AMI as the foundation for that, and we start building these use cases.  

One of the use cases was Green Button Connect, where the customer can get their AMI data and share it with a third party. That's part of the DSP (distributed system platform). The hosting capacity maps—where a solar provider can look at a map and say, "Oh my gosh, it's going to be easy for me to interconnect this customer and hard to interconnect this one. Let's focus here." Now there's energy storage, hosting capacity maps, and electric vehicles.  

So all of these tidbits of information are helpful and are making things priming the pump and starting it out. And then the vision was that this would just keep going until finally one day there'd be customer on Second Avenue and Third Street that was going to sell air, excess solar power to a customer on whatever, First Street and Fourth Avenue. So that's the vision. And I think that's still the vision, but you can see where the data needs just get huge. From a hosting capacity map, that's thousands and thousands of pieces of data that maybe have to be updated on a monthly data level to 3.3 million customers getting 15-minute or in the case of commercial customers, five-minute data, and just having to make decisions on that or being part of some aggregation system. 

Matt: What you're generating and sharing these days is significantly more than it was even a few years ago. 

Damian: It is. Again, we felt like we were taking the right steps with the distributed system platform. But, again, the integrated energy data resource order—that's what we're fundamentally talking about here. Just puts that on steroids. It's just pedal to the metal. 

Matt: Yeah. Patricia, anything to add onto that? 

Patricia: Yeah. I was going to add—because your question was how did data sharing look before these 2021 regulatory orders—and as Damian was explaining, the joint utilities have been working together and separately in different data access mechanisms to provide directly customers or third parties that are authorized by customers or even public platforms like the system data maps and the hosting capacity maps just sharing relevant energy data information for different stakeholders depending on their needs. And that has been a very interactive process. Stakeholders have been involved with this. We've had interviews with them and define the use cases and really understand what is the need and even explain to them, "Okay, this is a solution that we have, does that make sense to you?" From the utilities' perspective, talking to these stakeholders and they would give feedback and I'm sure I know the hosting capacity maps have evolved throughout the years—there has been several versions.  

In fact, there have been low-capacity maps that span from the hosting capacity maps. You see the utilities continue to deliver different ways to share data with the third parties. And another example is the nice Utility Energy Registry, the UER, which offers utility aggregated zip code and county level data publicly. So generally it's for municipalities, for cities looking to track their energy usage, but other stakeholders could other have access to this information if they want to. There's the SIR (Standardized Interconnection Requirements) inventory, which utilities are publishing monthly also publicly and has DER install information.  

There's also each customer has their right and can access their own data, but logging into their account—and, of course, the granularity of the data they have access to depends if the utility has implemented smart meters, AMI or not. So if they have, they can access 15-minute interval data. If they haven't, it's going to be on a monthly basis. And I think what Damian was saying now is how do you integrate all those different data share mechanisms across all the utilities and making a centralized data platform but in a way that it's not messy, that is consistent with the quality and expectations of the stakeholders that we're already accessing this data. So, that's part of the challenge here. 

Damian: Yeah. Just echoing that a little bit. The word standardization comes to mind. Just if a developer can cross a utilities' boundary and see the same exact hosting capacity maps on the same exact scales, it's going to help them get up to speed much faster. So just kind of underscoring some of Patricia's points. 

Matt: Well, that perspective of understanding what stakeholders need and trying to deliver it as quickly and uniformly as possible—that's a big part of this story. Let's put that one in the parking lot. I also just want to editorialize for a second, that one of the things I've observed working with the joint utilities for many years and working with the both of you is that obviously people around the country have tracked mostly the existence of the beginning of REV. They've watched it from afar. And it did seem at the outset as an initiative that was focused on the future, maybe even the far future kind of a transactive distribution level marketplace, kind of akin to what we've seen on the wholesale level. And it created this question of, well, if we're not there yet, what are the practical implications of the REV initiative today?  

One of the things that really comes through in what both of you just said is, yes, there could still be all kinds of future applications for having a uniform statewide data access platform, but what you've found in your work over the last year is there are real use cases and needs for stakeholders for developers today. And we're creating a tremendous amount of value for those entities in the marketplace and for utilities, by the way, by having more volume, more granular, and more uniform data access.  

That's something, again, we'll circle back to, but just to pick up on Damian's last point about just how much work has gone into trying to get some of that uniformity, some of that cohesive approach among all of these different utilities. When these two orders came through just over a year ago, as we record this, they did call for a lot of filings, a lot of work on your part, on Patricia's part and a lot of change to be kind of blunt about it. Was it an “oh, crap” moment for the utilities when you saw all of that? I mean, how did you start to get organized and think all of that through? 

Damian: Yeah. I think to use a different word, it was definitely sobering to be asked to ramp things up even quicker than what we thought was already quicker. There's a constant tension of steady progress on one side of the spectrum versus build it and they will come. So in REV, we tried to pick the no regrets choices. We tried to move through them very quickly and start getting over here, but we wanted to do things that needed to be done when we saw it. And the commission with the IEDR told us, "Move a little bit closer." They didn't say build it and they will come. But they said, "We want to see you moving a lot faster down that roadway." So yeah, it was sobering is the S word I would use there. 

Luckily the utilities had already been working for four or five years on this stuff. And you mentioned our engagement and our relationship. Luckily we've been working in partnership with ICF and a lot of other great stakeholders in the case of ICF people that were structuring this. So we were able to ramp up what we were doing, but I mean, it was still, "Oh my gosh, we got to move fast." But at least we knew here are all the players we got to reach out to at each utility. Here's some framework and some outlines we can start with and then here's where we go. So that felt really good. 

The stakeholder process and the collaboration felt pretty good. So I think we got started pretty well. I'd say our guiding principle was to just try to offer the best solutions rather than comply with the order. So we certainly, what do we got to do to comply, but then how do we make this make sense and how do we grow it and how do we scale it? You won't be surprised to know that privacy and cybersecurity concerns were underlying that throughout the whole time. So, I'll just queue it up like that. I suspect we'll get into that a little bit more detail, but that was yes, sobering. Thank goodness we got this structure of the joint utilities and the support of a project manager like ICF, and then how do we comply and go beyond complying to leadership and doing smart things. 

Matt: Right. Really driving a good solution for the market. So, Patricia, all of this kind of fell on you in a support capacity leading for ICF. Now, again, a lot of it's falling on the utilities themselves, but you're trying to put all this organization on behalf of the utilities together. And it sounds like you're handed an elephant and it's like the old saying, "How do you eat an elephant one bite at a time?" And you are responsible for figuring out where to stick the fork. Just take us inside that thought process. You're presented with filings and then tasks to do, what was that like? How did you wrap your head around the questions that needed to get answered and the task that needed to get done? 

Patricia: Yeah. I'll say I had to read the orders a couple of times to create some internal summaries for us to distill what were the new definitions, the new processes, what were the regulatory requirements and the filings, and when their due, what were the questions that we needed to answer to complete this new filings that were never done. And at the JU (Joint Utilities) level, again, coordinating all the utilities, different business groups within each of those utilities who come up with answers that they never had to answer before. So it took a lot of meetings, it took creating inventories of subject matter experts, sub-meetings, questionnaires, and things like that. And of course, putting together an overall work plan for all these regulatory filings to distill the milestones that we needed to get us to complete the filings by the deadline. 

Matt: What kind of scale are we talking about here? I mean, we've kind of teased this, but how many are we talking about and how fast? 

Patricia: Yeah. So just the data access framework, DAF, order alone required around six joint utility compliance filing in 60 and 90 days. Although we did end up requesting some extensions for those, but it was pretty quick. It was all summer working really hard to get this done. And as Damian was saying, I think we learn a lot about what each utility processes—we share best practices—and we felt that we deliver a really good product like something we all felt proud of and that it will align all these framework that is completely many new definitions and we wanted to be consistent across. And also how does this data access framework order would interact with the IDER, the Integrated Energy Data Resource. So we kept asking ourselves those questions in turn to interpret that and make everything consistent. So, as I said, a lot of coordination, collaboration across the utilities—there are different business units and just a lot of organization to get us to the finish line. 

Damian: If I can chime in, Matt, I would say just to the SMEs [subject matter experts] were also key. Patricia's very aptly describing—we had the right people. We did reach out to the SMEs. We tried to work through the problems. But then having the depth of ICF and some of the other utilities' experience in other places allowed us to benchmark, the Public Service Commission offered us a couple of examples in the IEDR (Integrated Energy Data Resource) white paper. We were able to tap some ICF subject matter experts on mass markets and things along those lines. And ConEd is very lucky to have a director of privacy that comes from the banking industry. So we were even able to look at cyber and privacy from other industries. So in addition to being ready to mobilize quick and doing that and reaching out to the usual SMEs, we went a step further, I think, to kind of do a justice. 

Matt: Well, and I do want to go right back to you on two things that we put in the parking lot a little bit earlier. Let's see if we can drive those off the lot now. One of them is the stakeholder aspect of this, because one of the things you had to get organized, but as you just said a moment ago, we already had a running start on. It was that interface with stakeholders and beginning to understand their exact needs, their most specific wants and what they were going to use this information for. And it was all structured around the idea of uncovering value-driven use cases.  

And I think the idea that you just put forward is really the right one. I mean, this is the way I saw it, which is that you can't just hand wave at a question like this of, "Oh, let's just put some data out there." If you really want to create some value for the people in your marketplace, you have to be thoughtful, you have to be engaged, you have to get the right diverse set of stakeholders involved, and you have to be really practical, you have to really drill down into what do you need to have and what's just a nice to have. So, could you maybe talk to us a little bit about how that aspect played out as you started to approach the stakeholder aspect of responding to these orders? 

Damian: Yeah. No, you're absolutely correct that our earlier REV efforts underscored the value of stakeholder collaborations. And since this is a bigger effort, obviously we're going to need more of those. I mean, it's simplistic to say but the reality is that the more minds you can bring to the table and the more diverse the backgrounds and opinions, the better the end product. So even something as straightforward as solar hosting capacity maps. If I tell you, "Just give me some maps that show solar providers where to interconnect." Sounds simple enough and you could make some assumptions and you could get into very dangerous territory very quickly because you start assuming things about what people need and you're not talking to the people that need it. So even in something as simple as that, there's a tremendous amount of complexity and nuance to it, there's been an interconnection policy working group and an interconnection technical working group that take care of a lot of interconnection issues.  

One of which is these hosting capacity maps. And that's been going on strong for four or five years. And I don't think anybody in those would say that we're done, but it does feel like we've made some good progress. Like I said, we've expanded on it to include now energy storage and electric vehicles. As of September, Governor Hochul announced that New York State is on target to meet the solar goal of 6,000 megawatts by 2020. We think that hosting capacity maps are a big part of that and we think that gave her the confidence to extend the goal and make it 10,000 megawatts by 2030. And that's just one example. The collaboration around these use cases just starts piling up. And again, the more hands, the light of the load, the cliché. 

Matt: And can I just follow up on that last piece then for a second? What about the use case aspect of this? By the way, this is the term I had to look up because I don't come from an IT background like what the heck is a use case? This is one of those things that people make up to sound more sophisticated than they really are. It's just the way people are going to use something that you created. But that being said, why is that framework of thinking about use cases so important? Why is that helpful?

Damian: Yeah. We feel that the use cases provide useful and actionable data. I used the example of the Hosting Capacity Map, but it's just there. So even somebody that's just starting to sharpen their teeth as a solo developer, they've got something to go off of that's got a lot of history and background on it. The other side of the coin there is giving customers—and not just customers—just giving everybody raw data and assuming they're going to pick their way through it. So I'm very much more on the side of the use cases. There's an urgency to doing this. There's a prioritization to get the most bang for the buck. The utilities don't have all the answers, but we do have a good idea of what we need on our system. And then with the help of the stakeholders, it seems like the use cases can package it up and get this going.  

And then you can just build on them, add in a fan item. That's the beauty of it. So the solar hosting capacity maps could be one use case. And then you could add brownfield sites and open rooftop space and farms. And now you can say, "Oh, I got this big parcel of land and I'm very close to this part of the utility that can take five megawatts and more boom. This is where I'm going to focus."  

So it's those intersections that I think is where the creativity is going to come, and the value as new people look at this and they start picking different slices, should I combine brownfield sites with hosting capacity for solar? You know what I think it'd be better for energy storage because there's some challenges with energy storage, obviously lithium and it's very material intensive. There might be some considerations, some things that make it easier on a brownfield site. I don't know. So having the structure of the use cases and building a lot of them very quickly, I think, gets the sweet spot of allowing the third parties to bring creativity to it while providing the structure that's going to get quick and big results. 

Matt: Well, okay. So Patricia, Damien just laid out, I think a really compelling case for how valuable it is to everybody—the utilities, the regulators—in terms of what they're seeking and policy. And of course all the market participants and stakeholders. There's a lot of value to getting it right. Now, it's time to bring you in for the downside. In your article, you named eight states that are already right now on the cusp of some kind of major expansion of data and information sharing access. So, what should those utilities in those places, the market participants, and the regulators in those states be worried about in terms of risks? What are the problems of getting all of this wrong? 

Patricia: Yeah. I think this is something that Damian has already alluded earlier about the privacy. In the case of utility customers, they own their data and their right to share it. And many privacy laws at the federal and state levels are trying to better define the roles and responsibilities of companies and entities to handle sharing of customer data usage and storage. And there's pending legislation in New York and again, at the federal level, that can have serious implications for how we continue to think about this very large project of sharing the data, but also there's current regulations and laws that protect the customer. But beyond that, I think it can get tricky. Do you actually need consent from their customer to share it beyond those purposes? If so, how are you going to gather that consent? What are the, again, responsibilities of these other parties that are going to be storing and using this data?  

So all of those things are very lengthy and complicated conversations that everybody needs to be on the same line and understand utility stakeholders' regulator what are the frameworks governing privacy in the state. Then, second, I'll add cyber and physical security, both at the individual level as a customer level, but also at collective level. Sharing some grade or customer data alone might sometimes seem harmless, but if you layer that information with other types of data, it could present real risk. Like some bad actors could try to target allocation and cause an outage or other sort of scenarios that are scary to think about. The joint utility, cybersecurity, and privacy have been topics that came up during the filings. We're trying to improve the cybersecurity and privacy frameworks in the state because I think the stakes are higher when we're talking about the centralized third-party platform where the utilities now are going to be sharing and sending over all sorts of data that they were not doing that before, the parameters before were all within the utilities, and of course the utilities currently have cybersecurity and privacy standards that are applying with the third parties.  

But when you make that scope bigger and include more third parties, of course you need to consider those risks as well. And then, finally, overbuilding a tech solution without a clear understanding of the value proposition, going back to the use cases, why are you really trying to collect this massive amount of data? Why would you require this granularity or this frequency of refresh? Because it's costly, there's a lot of cost associated to collecting this data. Sometimes the utilities currently don't even have the capability yet, so they will have to sometimes invest in new systems, collect that data, store it in the cloud, send it over to this other party, and then just, you want to make sure there's a reason, like there's a logical reason and it's a clear value proposition and there's sufficient stakeholders that will actually use it.  

Because I think we've seen some pilots that utilities have experimented with and all their data-sharing mechanisms that I mentioned—they're actually not used that much. So even understanding why is that the case, what is the barrier for those users to not use those existing data access mechanisms could be super helpful as you're building a new solution. 

Matt: So, Damian, I have a parallel question for you. It seems to me, and I've been working with you guys for a long time that even behind the scenes, the Con Edison and the other joint utilities of New York have not been afraid of this whole market transformation. And as you've already alluded to, I can attest, I think you've really been doing your best to get the balance of finding opportunity for your own role in the market and continuing to play that traditional utility safety and reliable service kind of role and be a good partner to the other market participants. So just taking a step back, what do you see as the upsides and downsides? Now that you've made the case for getting it right and Patricia has given us the downside risk of getting it wrong, what do you see as the upsides and downsides of the new data approach that New York is taking from a utility standpoint? 

Damian: Yeah. I mean, we consistently try to be leaders in the utility field, in terms of reliability and especially in terms of customer service. And this one is even easier because we see the market transformation and we understand the imperative to support the state's clean energy goals. So we want to be a part of that—we want to get it going. In fact, you heard me mention before we feel like those hosting capacity maps already help in a quantifiable way to get towards one of the state's goals with respect to solar. So that's the positive—that's what we're trying to get at. And the utilities are no strangers at balancing the opportunities of our business—takes pride in being the oldest ticker symbol on the stock market. We started in 1823. So we've certainly balanced the pluses and minuses and navigated a lot of issues over the last three centuries, literally.  

And as a result, we know that things go wrong. We know that the devils are in the details and in the case of big data, there's a lot of details. And then I would even go a step further in concentrating that data. Of all of the New York State utilities and all the New York State customers and all the infrastructure around it in one central resource amplifies that risk in a way we certainly haven't seen before, and we're not sure how many people have seen it before, so that causes us and it makes us focus on the challenges as well as the opportunity. So we take our role and do it very, very seriously, and we recognize that our 3.3 million customers are counting on us to do the same. Patricia did a really nice job of going through the privacy, the cyber security and the potential physical security that could also happen if somebody knows where our infrastructure is.  

So we're spending a lot of time figuring out what data to share as Patricia also outlined, getting the right use cases, getting the biggest bang for the book and limiting the exposure. The second area we focused on, because it's another challenge—I wouldn't say it's a negative—but we need to get the governance process in place for the energy serving entities that are going to use this data, because even though they're responsible players and we know they want to do the right thing every time there's a data interchange, there's the possibility of somebody compromising that.  

So we take those very seriously. So we try to look at the use cases, which are the opportunities—provide our experience in leadership, as well as some benchmarking from other industries. I mentioned our privacy director from the banking industry on best practices for data governance and handling this. We have been very vocal in asking for robust discussions so that we vet these issues out and hear everybody's point of view and make sure they get the attention that they're really due. Coming from a good experience in the REV stakeholder process, we're hopeful that that's going to play out even better here. 

Matt: Let me just hit each of you with the final question. What's one piece of advice that you would have for folks in other states who may be following along, listening to this show, reading Patricia's article? If you're a regulator, if you're a utility person, if you're a stakeholder in one of those other places, if you're thinking about information sharing or maybe you're contemplating, you're a regular, you're embarking on a new model around system and customer data, what advice would you give to those folks to pay attention to? 

Patricia: Yeah. So I would say again, center the conversation on the value of the data by co-creating meaningful use cases with key stakeholders, key players, and including the utilities—because they're the experts, they have the majority of the energy data and they understand what's feasible, what is the range of data options, what exists today, what can be enhanced. And then get at the bottom of the why. Why is the access to that data important? And somehow try to quantify what would be the added value that accessing that new data would provide. So you make sure that whatever you're investing in to build these new processes, it's going to create additional value. And again, balancing the risk on privacy and cybersecurity because those risks can translate to costs, unfortunately. So not an easy process, but I think it can be done. 

Damian: Yeah. I would just chime in and agree with everything that Patricia said and think in terms of phases or waves, it's always tempting to dry and do everything on day one. But in addition to focusing on it, you can always make it more bold or add milestones as you go along in time. So the use cases are not exactly software, I guess they could be. But to use that analogy—or has a version one and version one may be fairly modest—but it's rolled out quick, it's got a big bang for the buck, it gets users on board. And then you look at that. You talk about the user experience. You figure out where you can make additions and you go from there. You get out version two, version three, version four—it gets a ball rolling. I feel like it gets it rolling in the fastest way possible. And then you can eventually at some point—always get to everything. So you want to make it on a good path, you want to get the lowest hanging fruit first.  

And then if you lay out that roadway, I think that sets a lot of minds at ease that—okay, it may not be here in version one, but two is going to give you this and three you're going to get what you want. So, that would be the way I would kind of think about it. 

Matt: Well, I want to thank you both for a really interesting conversation. It takes me down memory lane and it provides some insights into what's coming down the road. And if people are interested in what's going on in New York right now, you want to dig in a little bit further on this topic, first of all, you can go to the Joint Utilities of New York website, which is, and you can see some of the data and information that are being provided in New York—just through that website, before the data access platform and IEDR really get going. So you can see some of what's out there right now through that website. Of course, you can access the Con Edison website where a lot of this system and customer data is also available. And of course, you can check out where you can find more from this video and podcast. And of course, Patricia D'Costa's excellent article on this. And we'll probably put out some more article versions of this conversation there as well. So I'm Matt Robison and on behalf of Patricia and Damian, thanks so much for being with us. 

Meet the author
  1. Matt Robison, Energy Markets Technical Advisor - Distributed Resources

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