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Off Peak

Fortnightly Magazine - September 15 1997

Follow the arrows as California's direct access workshops map out who will have access to electric customer data.

In its latest order implementing direct access for electric customers, the California Public Utilities Commission told Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric to conduct workshops to recommend rules on the release of customer information in a deregulated electric industry.

The PUC offered guidelines. It said it wanted data released in two ways: 1) with the customer's identity removed (zip code, rate category, SIC code and usage), and 2) in a standardized personal report by customer request or, as advocated by some, as part of an "opt-in" program conducted by the utilities themselves. (See, Decision 97-05-040, May 6, 1997, 177 PUR4th 1, 39-40.)

In compliance, the Direct Access Workshop on Retail Settlements and Information Flow submitted its final report on July 25. That report traces, among other items, "the flow of usage data from a specific customer's meter through all of its uses in various applications." Or, in more colorful terms, "from the meter to money in everyone's pocket." (See, RSIF Report, p. 28, http://162.15.5.2/wk-group/dai/dai4 /msg00023.htm.)

Here, as diagrammed in the report, is a map of just one piece of the overall information flow (em the so-called "Meter Data Management Function."

Still concerned about privacy?

Six Steps to Customer Privacy:

1. Collect Data (em Obtain raw data from meter, via various channels; reread meter as needed.

2. VEE (em Validation, Editing and Estimation of missing or corrupt data.

3. Database Management (em (a) short-term storage prior to dissemination; (b) integrate customer service data; (c) estimate load profiles, sort by ESP, adjust for distribution losses, aggregate per user's needs, remove customer ID, (d) disseminate to user mailboxes on server and to storage archive.

4. Dissemination (em Operate server for access by others.

5. Storage (em Manage data archive.

6. Security (em Prevent unauthorized access or tampering.

*C=End-Use Consumption; M=Metering; NPR=Non-Profit or Public Interest Research Groups; CRL=Commercial, Legal and Regulatory Framework (laws, government regulation, stakeholder boards, trade associations, etc.); T=Transmission Function; ISO=Independent System Operator; SC=Schedule Coordinator; PX=Power Exchange; PM=Wholesale Power Market Services; D=Distribution Wires Function; ESP=Retail Energy Service Provider; ESCO=Non-Commodity Energy Service Company; MDM=Meter Data Management.

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