New Hampshire gets it right 


New Hampshire gets it right

Case in point: the NH Energy Data Hub                            

Though we hear a lot about what’s wrong with government, it’s important to remember that government is what we make it. This month, I signed a settlement agreement with local and national energy stakeholders (including the 3 NH utilities) after being part of a 17 month docket at the Public Utilities Commission (PUC). The docket was formed after a 2019 bill passed the House and became law. I co-sponsored that bill and chaired the House subcommittee that helped it along its way to the Governor’s desk. The law called for a PUC process to define a statewide online energy data platform, now referred to as the NH Energy Data Hub.

The PUC uses an intervenor process for interested parties to work together to get the details right. Coming from a software project management background, I wanted to make sure this unusual state project stayed on track and achieved its vision for energy consumers. Little did I know when I signed on that we’d be collaborating to define a logical data model, user stories, security, privacy, data standards and a governance model that would make New Hampshire the envy of many other states. It is amazing what can be done when people care about the work (even on zoom, during a pandemic!).

I attended many 8-hour technical sessions with energy stakeholders from around the country who were committed to helping New Hampshire, because every success provides a blueprint for more success. One intervenor who stayed involved the entire time, Mission Data’s CEO Michael Murray (Seattle, WA), told PUC commissioners in the May 5th settlement hearing that New Hampshire had run the most sophisticated and thorough process in which he had been involved. I too was impressed by the caliber of ‘volunteer experts’ who committed to this docket.

The NH Energy Data Hub is a leap forward for energy efficiency and for fighting back against the long-lamented, high-cost of electricity. Besides better energy management for towns, individuals and businesses, this tool can help us leverage energy market diversity to address expensive peak demand. With the onset of smart meters and smart grids, access to energy data is the essential ingredient in a market-based future that lowers demand and tames costs. True efficiency starts with an accurate energy picture, because ‘you can’t manage what you can’t measure’ – Intervenor Pat Martin.

The Hollis Energy Commission (HEC), whose work has saved Hollis taxpayers umpteen thousands since the BOS green-lighted efficiency plans for town buildings, has long wished for an easy way to illustrate the town’s return on investment. But there is no easy method to secure data from various energy sources. Utilities can’t combine data across utility companies, and they have no natural incentive to work with smaller competitors to include customer data.

When HEC Chair Eric Ryherd was pressed on ROI data for energy investments at the town level during a BOS meeting his answer was, “It’s a lot harder to get that data than you would think.” That’s a problem all states are grappling with as we define how technology and energy intersect. The NH Energy Data Hub smooths the transition.

New Hampshire should take pride in driving the innovation that attracted energy heavy hitters to donate significant time to help jump start the NH Energy Data Hub. Next steps are an RFP (request for proposals) from the Public Utilities Commission for vendor pricing to build the Hub and then a cost benefit analysis for whether the energy Hub brings value for NH ratepayers.

We may not always understand the need for data tools, but we understand the need for reliability when we turn on the lights. We also expect the state to find ways to maximize efficiencies so that we can tackle unreasonable demand charges on our electric bills. There is no plan that addresses both like NH’s Energy Data Hub.

— — Hollis Brookline News Online
by Kat McGhee
May 2021