WASHINGTON – PG&E shared its energy-efficiency success story on Monday (May 20) as the Alliance to Save Energy (ASE) kicked off its sixth annual EE Global Forum.
Helen Burt, PG&E’s chief customer officer and senior vice president, joined a panel discussion that opened the two-day gathering of the world’s most influential energy efficiency professionals.
The panel laid out a blueprint for the next generation of energy efficiency and the tools – investment, modernization and education – needed to drive a goal envisioned in a recent ASE Commission report of doubling energy productivity by 2030. This goal was also echoed by President Obama in his annual State of the Union address.
Efficiency keeps California energy demand flat
In her presentation, Burt explained the “California Model” of energy efficiency, which has resulted in relatively flat per capita energy use over the last 35 years, compared to increases of up to 50 percent in the rest of the country. This model boasts investment of more than $1 billion annually statewide, modernization efforts across all customer segments, and education and engagement with customers through a variety of channels.
Although the topic of energy efficiency gains increasing momentum across all sectors, Burt said, “The role of the utility remains critical for unlocking the potential of energy efficiency.”
On Tuesday (May 21), Burt also participated in a panel discussion on how to best to provide the energy efficiency and usage tools customers most desire while protecting privacy.
In her remarks, Burt emphasized that “big data” is about more than just a collection of bits of information. It’s about empowering customers to consider how their consumption affects their bill and the environment.
“By helping customers identify the things that drive up consumption through technologies such as SmartMeter, Home Energy Reports and Green Button, you can provide personalized energy efficiency recommendations,” Burt said. “You can help them evaluate their rate options. You can improve customer engagement and satisfaction.”
Protecting customer privacy
But, as Burt noted, such great power comes with great responsibility. Any customer-identifiable data must only be released with consent of the customer, or must be properly aggregated or made anonymous for use by a third party to ensure it cannot be accessed or used for other purposes.
For this reason, PG&E, along with California’s other investor-owned utilities, the California Public Utilities Commission and privacy advocates, created first-in-the-nation customer privacy and information security rules using Fair Information Practices Principles. These address issues such as individual rights, security, transparency, and accountability and auditing.
In its work to provide customers with information that helps them use energy more wisely, PG&E doesn’t release individual customer data without consent, though the customer can choose to release their own data through Green Button and social energy applications.
“These tools allow customers to better analyze their energy usage and compare their energy use with similar homes in the area,” said Burt.
EE Global Forum concluded with intensive learning sessions on ways to begin pursuing the goal of doubling energy productivity in all sectors – and policy frameworks for energy-efficient power systems.