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Our Utility Rates Database

We constantly receive questions about how we track, update and manage our utility rates database, so I figured it was time for a blog post on the topic. Here’s some of the most frequently asked questions we get asked:

Q: Does Energy Toolbase track utilities rates in-house or do you use an outside service?
A: We do this function entirely in-house; we don’t rely on any outside services. Our CEO John decided early on that utility rates were too important and core to our service offering to outsource this. So we’ve been doing it this way since the beginning. Also we’ve come to realize that there are strong advantages to doing this in-house, like having full control when recreating utility bills or modeling dollar savings (aka avoided cost) analysis.

Q: How extensive is our utility rates database?
A: Our database currently lists utility rates in over 35 states and over 140 utility territories. As of today that amounts to roughly 5,500 unique utility rate records, which is growing pretty fast now we’re updating all of these rates on a regular basis as utilities implement changes. In the big solar market states, like California we have very extensive coverage and virtually all of the major rate schedules listed.

Q: Can you load a utility rate schedule for me that’s not currently in your database?
A: Absolutely! Our utility rate database is 100% user driven. We can add in any rate schedule within the United States that’s not currently listed in our database. We do ask that if you are requesting a rate, that you provide us with an actual copy of a recent customer’s utility bill on that specific rate schedule, this way we are able to have an additional level of verification and validation. Our average turn-around time to get a user requested rate loaded into the database is about 1-2 business days depending on the complexity of the rate schedule. And of course, users can always create their own custom rate schedules by copy/duplicating any rate listed in our database.

Q: How current is your database, and how often do you update your rates?
A: Utilities around the country update their rates on different schedules. Our utility rate team tracks this information for each utility in our database and adjusts our procedures accordingly. We don’t have a firm rule for how current our rates are. But generally speaking our rates are updated within a couple weeks after utilities change their effective dates. If you’re a user and happen to see a rate that hasn’t yet been updated, shoot me an email and we’ll get it updated in short order.

Q: What sort of validation and/or quality control measures do you have in place when entering rates into your database?
A: Because we have to manually transcribe a lot of the data from utility websites and tariff schedules, as well as contact utilities directly, there is obviously a risk of human error. Our current procedure is to have two people (both Jaclyn & myself) check the rates before they are activated and go live in our database. Furthermore, we often times to further validation against actual utility bills. We have a strong degree of confidence that the values listed in our database are accurate and match the actual utility tariff schedule.

When it comes to utility rates and avoided cost analysis our philosophy is to be fully transparent. Our entire utility rate database is viewable via the “Utility Rates” drop-down menu from anywhere on the platform. If you have other question that I didn’t answer and you’re an active user on our platform – you’re welcome to contact me directly.

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