Report by UCLA and Berkeley Law Schools IDs Benefits of Energy Data

Knowledge is Power report cover

Berkeley, CA, January 22, 2015 – Expanding customer access to energy data can bring cleaner, more efficient power to Californians, save money, and boost emerging clean technologies, according to a new report by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative at the UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools. Greater access to the data can also help the state meet the ambitious environmental goals recently outlined by Governor Jerry Brown in his fourth inaugural address.

Knowledge is Power: How Improved Energy Data Access Can Bolster Clean Energy Technologies & Save Money provides a set of recommendations to improve energy data access for businesses, residential customers, and clean technology vendors. The findings are the result of a July 2014 workshop at UC Berkeley during which clean technology leaders and public officials developed policies to make energy data more accessible and secure.

“The state has aggressive environmental goals that require significant improvements in energy efficiency, renewable energy, and electric vehicle deployment,” said report author Ethan Elkind, associate director of the climate change initiative at UCLA and UC Berkeley law schools. “Facilitating access to energy and market data—which can now be anonymized and aggregated without compromising customer privacy—can enable a host of more efficient and cleaner energy solutions, while also making it more economical for California to reach Governor Brown’s climate change goals.”  

The collected, anonymous data, along with detailed electric grid network information, is particularly useful for businesses and clean technology companies, according to the report. If customers have easier access to their own long-term utility usage patterns, they can better evaluate their energy use and select targeted, cost-effective energy efficiency measures.

For example, energy storage developers would be able to use detailed electric grid information to help specific customers reduce their energy use at times of high demand, leading to cost savings and less stress on the grid. Electric vehicle automakers could more easily help customers determine the optimal vehicle charging time based on rate structures and price signals from the grid, thereby saving money on fuel costs.

Ethan Elkind

Ethan Elkind

But accessing and organizing energy data takes time, money, and often a willingness to participate. Importantly, any disclosures must include careful procedures to protect customer privacy and security, Elkind said.

The report identifies a number of solutions to overcome such barriers to information access, including establishing independent, secure, energy data centers and cost recovery mechanisms for utilities to collect and share anonymous information.

“We know that better information enables better decisions,” said Jordan Diamond, executive director of Berkeley Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment.  “In this case, increased access to energy data can lead to cost savings and the continued growth of a sustainable clean technology business sector, both of which will help the state meet its environmental goals.”

Knowledge is Power is the 14th in a series of policy papers by the Climate Change and Business Research Initiative, a partnership between UCLA School of Law’s Emmett Institute on Climate Change and the Environment and UC Berkeley School of Law’s Center for Law, Energy and the Environment. Funded by Bank of America, the series connects leaders from business, government, nonprofit organizations, and academia to address pressing environmental needs and inform decision-makers on policies necessary for businesses to succeed in the era of climate change.  

About UCLA School of Law
Founded in 1949, UCLA School of Law is the youngest major law school in the nation and has established a tradition of innovation in its approach to teaching, research and scholarship. With approximately 100 faculty and 970 students, the school pioneered clinical teaching, is a leader in interdisciplinary research and training and is at the forefront of efforts to link research to meaningful change in society and the legal profession. For more information, please visit

About University of California, Berkeley, School of Law
For over a century, Berkeley Law has prepared lawyers to be skilled and ethical problem-solvers. The law school’s curriculum—one of the most comprehensive and innovative in the nation— offers its J.D. and advanced degree candidates a broad array of nearly 200 courses. Students collaborate with leading scholars and practitioners working on legal issues at more than a dozen interdisciplinary centers, institutes, and clinical programs within its Boalt Hall complex. Follow us on Twitter.