Pennsylvanians Could Be Paid for Their Excess Energy - But Utilities Standing In The Way

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The sharing economy is nothing new.

For years now, we have been able to share the extra space in our homes with travelers and earn extra income with Airbnb, or give rides to folks in our cars with Uber or Lyft.

So isn’t it about time that we be given the choice to share our energy use with neighbors and get paid to save energy?

Turns out in some states, that is already happening. Hundreds of thousands of people in California have their energy usage data available to them through the Green Button Connect program and are being paid for their choice to consume less energy (in addition to the lower energy bills they see) but in Pennsylvania, we still don’t even have access to see how much energy we are using in a given moment! And that needs to change.

You have been entitled to payments for saving energy for two years, but utilities are blocking this progress by dragging their feet on the decision to give utility customers the power to choose whether or not they share their energy data.

Since 2014, residents of California have been able to register their utility accounts with energy sharing services (like OhmConnect), which sends each user a text message once a week asking them to turn down their electricity consumption during times of peak demand in their neighborhood. If the person chooses to participate, they can get paid simply by turning off their lights and energy-sucking appliances for an hour.

They are empowered to share energy energy with their neighbors, which is good for the planet (it produces zero carbon emissions) and puts money back in their pockets.

In Pennsylvania, utilities have throttled Pennsylvanians’ opportunity to participate in energy sharing programs by not allowing residential customers to have insight into how much energy they use on a daily basis. Accessing this energy data is key in seeing how much participants save during those times of peak demand by decreasing their electricity consumption. Without access to the data, who knows how much energy customers save?

If you were running the grid, wouldn’t you pay someone to save energy instead of paying to build new power plants? The social cost, both economic and environmental, is lower to pay users to reduce their usage instead of paying a dirty power plant to turn on.

It’s time for utility companies to appropriately compensate customers willing to reduce their energy usage. Tell Senator Casey and Senator Toomey that Pennsylvania residents should be able to participate in the energy sharing market - supporting climate progress and earning money in the process.