Blog

Simplifying the process of retrieving usage data
By Tracy Fosterling, Tim Swaney
on 5/2/2019
  • interval data
  • solar modeling software
  • utilityAPI

Retrieving and obtaining data from a utility can be difficult and time-consuming, but crucial in accurately modeling solar + storage projects. It varies by the utility, and when you’re a developer, working on several projects, retrieving data for each project can take days, even weeks. If you’re going to go get this information yourself, there are several steps and hoops to jump through to get it.

Often times, this includes some sort of form that needs to be signed by the account holder, submitted to the utility by the 3rd party where it can take weeks to get the data returned. If that isn’t the path you’re taking, others have 800 numbers to call where the data is literally, read over the phone. Some try and get the account holders to send them their data, but few actually know how to even find bills, let alone their intervals. This can cause friction between account holders and 3rd parties, who are forced to hound potential customers for their data. In other words, the process can get extremely complicated.

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These pain points are the very reason that UtilityAPI went into business and why they were one of the first integrated onto Energy Toolbase's platform. It’s quick, painless and can accelerate the process of getting projects qualified, modeled and installed. Setting up an account takes less than 60 seconds, and data requests can be sent immediately afterward using just the account holder’s name and email. It’s truly seamless data access. 

 

Benefits of UtilityAPI in Energy Toolbase

Monthly summary data is the traditional and still very widely used method of re-creating a utility bill when analyzing and proposing solar PV projects. Within Energy Toolbase, users have several options in how they are going to import their usage data, including monthly bills, interval data, Green Button Data and of course, UtilityAPI. UtilityAPI interval data is a way to fast track a project and has a number of benefits for developers who want a faster and more efficient process. "The integration between UtilityAPI and Energy Toolbase empowers companies to expedite their proposal and sales process," said Rob Zakim, Sales Director at Utility API. "They're spending more time selling, less time scrambling to obtain data and less time entering that data into the software. It creates a positive, smooth, seamless customer experience."

When using UtilityAPI in Energy Toolbase users will be able to:

  • Instantly reconstruct an annual bill & avoid the possibility of typos from manually transcribing usage data
  • Exactly quantify the dollar savings of a project on all eligible rate options, including time-of-use (TOU) schedules
  • Model NEM 2.0 scenarios by precisely quantifying the amount of exported (kWh) energy and determine the dollar savings as a result of a reduced ($/kWh) export rate
  • Ethically estimate the reduction of demand charges in KW and dollars from a solar system based on a meters’ unique interval demand profile
  • Model customer side-of-the-meter energy storage strategies like peak demand shaving, TOU arbitrage or self-consumption
  • Determine the optimal system size for dollar savings, by simulating different system sizes, referencing interval meter data, solar system design specifications, and any utility rate switching options

 

Simplifying the process

UtilityAPI’s has simplified the process of retrieving data in two ways; one by facilitating the data authorization process and by providing its customers' data that is standardized and machine-readable within minutes of authorization. Authorization forms from UtilityAPI are the same for every utility that is supported, making it easier for customers to explain to account holders. UtilityAPI also formats the data the same way no matter what utility it comes from, to avoid any confusion or complication. It also streamlines the project process by allowing customers to create a process for analysis that is dependable and repeatable. 

 

What Markets does Utility API cover?

UtilityAPI covers a variety of utilities across the country including in the Midwest, Northeast, Pacific Northwest and other regions. Their territory covers the biggest solar + storage markets in the U.S. and is seamlessly integrated into the workflow of many of our users. The decision to expand to other utilities is dependent on many factors, the biggest one being customer feedback. Energy policy and finance laws that are solar and storage friendly also plays a big factor. Of course, the price of energy will make a big difference but is now less of a factor considering the price of renewable energy is dropping, unlocking more markets across the nation. The most recent markets UtilityAPI is heavily covering is Pennsylvania, with PPL and PECO just recently added to the coverage area. Florida Power & Light and Commonwealth Edison were recently added in late 2018 as well. UtilityAPI is also working to add utilities that offer interval data as a focus, which is very beneficial to the integration with Energy Toolbase.

CCA's are becoming more and more common, especially in California, where there are more than 19 providing service to millions of customers. Energy Toolbase allows users to model projects under CCA's within our platform, and UtilityAPI has added a new 3rd party supplier block to its API that simplifies obtaining data for CCAs.



Getting Started with Utility API

With the expected growth that experts predict for the solar + storage market in the coming years, developers can expect an increase in projects, therefore having less time to wait on interval data from utilities. Waiting days to get that data just won't cut it anymore, and quite frankly, never really has. Our integration with UtilityAPI lets users spend less time tracking down data, and more time selling and installing projects. "The feedback we have received from our customers who use UtilityAPI & Energy Toolbase in tandem is overwhelmingly positive. Having the ability to download granular utility data from a customer in the same day (that can take weeks to obtain from a utility) and then being able to automatically upload it into ETB’s amazing platform is a true game changer for the industry," added Zakim.

The process of utilizing UtilityAPI within Energy Toolbase is as simple as clicking a button when asked to import your usage data. When creating an Energy Use Profile in our platform, you will see the option to upload with Utility API. Once you've linked your account, which will only take minutes, you're ready to use the integration. 

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For an entire breakdown of how to utilize UtilityAPI in Energy Toolbase, we've published a resource guide that details the integration.