Remaking Energy: The Critical Role of Energy Consumption Data
This Article explores the public policy benefits associated with increased access to energy consumption data as well as the legal and institutional barriers that currently prevent such access. As state and local governments as well as electricity users attempt to improve the efficiency of their buildings, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and realize the promises of improved demand side management of energy resources, the need for electricity and other energy-related data becomes even more pressing. But the current law that balances making energy consumption data available against any privacy or confidentiality interests in the data is underdeveloped. Thus, this Article draws on the more sophisticated legal frameworks governing health care, education, and environmental emissions data that balance the public policy needs for data evaluation with countervailing interests. A review of the law in these fields shows that the privacy and confidentiality interests in energy consumption data may be overstated and, in any event, can be adequately addressed in most instances through aggregating the data, using historic rather than current data, or through contracts and other agreements to ensure security where access to individualized data is needed.