ESCOs' New Best Friend? The Green Button
Updated 6 July 2015
EnergyAi Blog - ESCOs and Green Button
Most energy professionals know the value of interval meter data – 15, 30, or 60 minute readings of energy use. When combined with weather and other information, you can show your clients how their facilities operate from the meter's perspective, revealing unexpected insights and opportunities for your services.
But meter data from utilities was often only available to large energy users for a monthly fee. Or an organization could install its own data collection system, which is only cost effective for large users.
Now there's a good chance that your clients' electric utilities offer a free, simple energy management system for all of their facilities – the Green Button. And pushing that button should be an important addition to your toolkit.
What is the Green Button?
The Green Button is an open standard for making energy use and cost data securely available on-line to utility customers. It specifies a data format that can handle everything from monthly bills to second-by-second readings. Most utilities include it in their smart meter roll-outs, packaging interval readings of consumption, demand, and cost data. All of which can be downloaded from the utility's web site, at no cost to your client.
To date almost 50 North American utilities serving 60 million households and businesses claim to have implemented, or commited to implement, the Green Button. Here's a link to the full list. And it’s adoption may soon spread to South America, Europe, and Asia.
ENERGYai® was one of the first apps to work with the Green Button when it was rolled out in 2012. It was a rocky start. Few utilities implemented the Green Button's xml format exactly according to the standard, though in fairness the standard wasn't quite finished! For example, we found one California utility's first version had timestamps that were 3 hours off, because the data servers were on the east coast. But that was quickly corrected.
Now both the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) and the North American Energy Standards Board (NAESB) have blessed the Green Button, and there is a formal certification process which utilities will be following.
Show me the data!
To see what raw Green Button xml data looks like, click here. This example only contains three hourly energy use readings (labeled "IntervalReading"). A complete version might contain up to a year of readings, perhaps at a 15 minute interval. The data is not usually available in real time, most utilities provide it "next day".
If you're not familiar with xml formats, the layout looks pretty daunting. Not to worry, you don't need to know any of the gory details. Because the Green Button is a standard format, there are lots of tools and services (like ENERGYai®) which translate the raw data to any format you wish. More on this below.
Green Button Logo
Getting Green Button data is simple. Your client (or you on their behalf) sign in to the utility's consumer web site. This is often called something like "My Usage" or "My Account". Look for the Green Button logo (similar to what is shown here) and follow the directions to download the file to your computer.
Over the last three years we've received Green Button data from most of the North American utilities which provide it. Below is a list of their web sites and others that we've confirmed offer this service:
If you know of any additions or corrections to this list, please email us at support@energyai.com. This is part of our larger list of utilities which provide customer access to meter data in different formats, which you can see here.
Why is this a big deal?
There's nothing new about interval energy data. What is new is the scale of availability (60 million customers and counting) and the low cost (free in most cases).
But it is still just raw energy use data. It must be analyzed to provide actionable information. Because the Green Button is a standard format, there are lots of tools you can use to translate and visualize Green Button data. A good listing of Green Button apps is at www.en.openei.org/apps/.
At ENERGYai® we specialize in working with ESCOs and other energy professionals. We may be Green Button experts, but you are the experts when it comes to your clients' facilities and operations. We make it easy and inexpensive for you to extract the full value of the Green Button for your clients. We combine the energy data with weather, price, and emission databases to offer two ways for you to incorporate Green Button analytics into your offering:
Meter Insights report thumbnail
The first is the Meter Insights report, a stand-alone analysis of 3-13 months of Green Button data rebranded with your logo. The report shows your clients how their facility operates from the meter’s perspective. Click here to see a sample report.
EnergyAi interval meter data feed
The second option is a customized data feed of detailed Green Button data and ENERGYai® results to be imported into your existing analytic tools. The data feeds can be one time only or recurring as needed.
Green Button 2.0 - "Connect My Data"
So far we've described Green Button primarily as a data format. The energy use data is available as a file which you or your client must download from the utility web site. This isn't very practical if you need updated readings every day, week, or month.
Green Button Connect My Data
But the Green Button is introducing an automated download capability called "Connect My Data" (or "CMD"). This will enable your client to authorize their utility to automatically send meter data to a third party.
In most cases it will still be "next day" availability, but updates can be delivered on a daily basis if needed.
Pacific Gas and Electric is the first U.S. utility to implement CMD in a service they call "Share My Data". ENERGYai® is a PG&E Share My Data third party, you can find out more about our daily Meter Insights for PG&E business customers here. We will be adding other utilities as they roll out CMD.
Questions?
If you'd like to learn more about the Green Button open standard, the best place to start is www.greenbuttondata.org. Or you can contact us by email at support@energyai.com or by phone at 510.847.6103.
If you’d like more information about how ENERGYai® works with ESCOs and other energy professionals, visit our web site.
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