Utility customers need to be aware of how batteries can significantly lower their electric bills.
Residents should be able understand how energy is used in their homes throughout the day to get an estimate of their potential savings.
This is however much easier said than done. It is not easy for customers in most US cities to find this basic information. In some areas, it is almost impossible.
Some utility providers may not even have this data. It can be very time-consuming to find that data, and it may also cost a lot of money.
Complex Pricing Structures
This is an increasing problem as utility providers are constantly changing their rates structures. Many utilities now charge time-of-use rates which fluctuate with electricity rates throughout the day. This allows them to bill customers at the highest electricity rate they use during a given day.
Most ratepayers don’t know how to react to these complex pricing structures and reduce their electric bills. Customers are forced to pay exorbitant utility bills, without knowing how to reduce them.
Even more concerning is the fact that this problem also affects nonprofit organizations. The lack of energy data can have a devastating effect on companies that provide basic welfare services and affordable housing to communities in need.
While these groups pay the same electricity rates that larger companies, they don’t have access to the same amounts of their electric data. These organizations don’t have the resources or the expertise to access the data, let alone interpret it.
Although this is obviously not fair, it is still an important topic. This injustice must be rectified by smarter policies.
Utility Customers Are Unhappy with Their Electricity Bills
Utility consumers should have access to their energy usage data, at least once per hour, to understand the importance of battery storage for their home or business.
Due to lack of data access, many customers in the US face major obstacles. Here’s what customers don’t know.
- If their home/office/building uses electricity
- The amount of electricity that the building uses at different times in a day or during a billing cycle.
Utility consumers don’t have this information and are left wondering how they can reduce their electricity bills.
Energy Advocates and Analysts Highlight the Problem
This data barrier was mentioned in Florida’s arguments against residential demand charges in 2018. Surprisingly, despite heavy opposition, it was approved.
Acadia Center, a northeastern advocacy organization, stated that utility customers in Florida don’t have any way to know when the highest demand was, due to the absence of an advanced metering system. It was also difficult to figure out how to manage high electricity prices.
This data problem is not unique to Florida. In 2017, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released a report that estimated that only 40% utility meters had the ability to record detailed electricity usage data by 2015.
These numbers, according to FERC, showed wide disparities in sophisticated metering deployment – from less than 10% in the Greater New England area to more than 80% in Texas. However Texas is doing well economically.
Although advanced metering has been used by around two-thirds (if not all) of consumers since 2015, access to the data is very limited.
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