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Raising the energy data curtain

We are in the midst of a data revolution.

Google and its competitors have changed our relationship to all kinds of information. This revolution creates enormous opportunities along with difficult issues of personal privacy protection. Nowhere are the opportunities and the privacy issues more prevalent than in the energy field.

Right now, we do not have answers to some very basic questions about the ebb and flow of energy because of data constraints. For instance:

* What neighborhoods use the most energy?
* Which industries consume the most power?
* What are the load shapes for usage in downtown Los Angeles?
* Where are the distribution line bottlenecks?
* At what times?
* What rate structures would impact behavior?
* How effective are energy efficiency programs at reducing consumption?

California utilities have the data to answer these questions. But, for a variety of reasons, including privacy concerns, they have been unwilling to provide that data to regulators and the public.

That finally may be changing.

First, in a unique effort, the California Center for Sustainable Communities at the University of California, Los Angeles, working closely with the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power, has published the first interactive map of energy usage for the City of Los Angeles.

The municipal utility made available an unprecedented amount of data, allowing the mapping of energy usage by neighborhoods across much of the city. The university is creating a series of maps, correlating energy usage, water usage, location, age and size of structures, and income, among other factors, that will allow the regulators, academics, businesses, and the public to evaluate energy in different ways.

To read the full article by Ken Alex and Mikhail Haramati click here