In February 2016, The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) adopted Decision 15-09-023 which provides a set of analytical tools to quantify the benefits of water savings. The purpose of one of the tools, the water energy nexus calculator is to enable the CPUC, Investor-Owned Utilities (IOUs), and other stakeholders to quantify and capture ‘embedded energy’ savings stemming from water conservation programs. In a follow-on decision, the CPUC issued Assigned Commissioner’s Ruling Regarding Advanced Meter Infrastructure Pilot Proposals and Setting Workshop (November 20, 2015).
The Ruling requires the IOUs to propose pilot projects that explore the technical challenges of water agencies “piggybacking” on IOU electric/gas infrastructure to obtain water smart meter data for advancing water conservation programs. The Ruling also mandates that the pilot projects be designed to explore additional unanswered questions to complement any existing efforts to test “piggybacking” by each IOU.
In an alliance between analytics companies, power companies, and water utilities, work on pilots across the state has begun in earnest. Piggybacking technology has the potential to provide a cost-effective way for water utilities to save water, conserve energy, and also reduce GHG emissions via reduced truck rolls to read meters. Where energy utilities transitioned to advanced meter infrastructure (AMI) over 10 years ago, most water utilities have not. Advanced analytics are paramount to this effort as they locate the value in the data for water utilities in AMI and quantify environmental benefits.