The Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) approved recommended improvements to streamline the Smart Meter Texas (SMT) portal at the Commission’s Open Meeting. Implementation of the approved changes will make it easier for customers in competitive electricity areas of Texas to choose energy management providers for services such as energy efficiency, demand response, distributed generation, and other energy software products and services. Under the settlement agreement, these “competitive service providers” (CSPs) are not considered retail electric providers — which get more revenue when customers use more electricity — but rather are companies that specialize in providing services to help customers better manage how much energy they use, when they use it, and how much they spend on their monthly bills.
“Energy data by itself is not helpful to most customers, but when energy experts can interpret that data and provide concrete actions customers can take to change their electricity use — that results in real dollars saved by customers,” said Suzanne Bertin, Executive Director of Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA), a business association of advanced energy companies in Texas. “Those energy savings instead can be spent on other products and services in the Texas economy. All of us who were involved appreciate PUCT’s approval of this settlement, which will make this data easier for customers to obtain and put to work and save them money.”
Smart meters in Texas
Texas was one of the first states to deploy advanced meters in 2008, with the Smart Meter Texas portal being a feature unique to Texas. The SMT portal provides a way for customers to download and view their own energy data or share it with companies that can help interpret the data and suggest actions to save money.
As originally designed, the SMT portal has been difficult for customers to use, resulting in very few taking advantage of the system. The improved SMT access resulting from this settlement agreement will allow customers to opt-in to data sharing with their chosen competitive providers with a simple and secure one-click email consent.
With this decision, Texas will be updating the Smart Meter Texas portal to be more in line with national standards such as Green Button, which provides a standardized data format for software developers to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) with the system. Standardization will promote new business development in the state as advanced energy companies offer new products and services to help customers manage their energy use.
“We’ve seen that customers are discouraged from enrolling in programs with unnecessarily time-intensive, complex, and complicated steps,” said Laura Kier, Senior Associate, Market Operations, at EnergyHub, a residential demand response and grid services provider. “This more streamlined process for Smart Meter Texas is crucial to creating a positive customer experience, and one that encourages customers take advantage of new energy services.”
“EnerNOC, an Enel Group Company, has been unlocking value to its commercial and industrial customers while contributing toward grid reliability through participation in ERCOT’s Emergency Response Services (ERS) for years,” said Mona Tierney-Lloyd, Sr. Director, Western Regulatory Affairs, EnerNOC. “Now, our customers can get the information they want and the services they need much more easily.”
”The settlement agreement is part of a nationwide trend toward increasing usability of utility-controlled websites,” said Michael Murray, President of Mission:data Coalition, a non-profit. “For several years the law in Texas has provided customers with rights to access their energy data, but exercising those rights in practice has been difficult. This agreement remedies that, and we applaud the PUCT for approving the settlement.”
— Solar Builder magazine