Strategic Energy Action Plan

Action Area 3: Develop Smart Data Approaches

Charlotte has two great data resources. The ‘Quality of Life Explorer’53, formerly the Quality of Life Study, has been around for more than 20 years. In 2012, it was transformed into an interactive dashboard that included all of Mecklenburg County. In 2013, Charlotte expanded their ‘open data’ platforms and created ‘Open Charlotte’54.This is an online, largely static, repository of data. It is an excellent building block upon which a data driven approach can be based.

To achieve a low carbon future, there has to be a considerable change in the energy system. Today’s energy system has largely evolved, without guidance, largely due to market forces. To create a new energy system requires foresight, which is greatly aided by data. The data that is required to inform a low carbon future is similar to the data that is required for other areas such as local air quality, equity, transportation flows, workforce development, and economic development.

One of the challenges of transitioning to a low carbon future is the demand on the electricity system, due to a growing population, and increase in EVs, and electrification of heating and cooling. Under the existing regulatory structure, Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) has a significant role to play in this.

In its Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), Duke recognizes that the traditional approaches to utility resource planning need to be improved to keep pace with the changes that are happening and will continue to happen as the energy system becomes more decentralized. This provides significant opportunities for Charlotte to truly build and shape an energy system capable of supporting the low carbon future that is built on the collection of smart data. That can then be used as a model and exported elsewhere. Charlotte’s rapid growth provides significant opportunities in this regard.

Task 1: Through CREDIT, Develop a Smart Data Implementation Plan in FY22

With the increasing number of players entering into the energy market, the complexities of monitoring and tracking will continue to increase. This is not a problem specific to Charlotte, as other cities are grappling with the same challenge and have developed data programs in response. The issue has been incorporated into planning in cities around the world. Further strengthening the City’s relationship with UNCC’s Data Science Initiative (DSI) will be a key component to delivering this.

Step 1: Establish the data collection as part of the RIDs

The RIDs will provide a significant source of data and provide learning outcomes that can be utilized as part of developing jobs within the ‘green economy’. This will serve, in part, as a mechanism through which progress can be measured. The data here will also capture neighborhood related information, so that these areas can be better understood and resilience efforts supported.

Step 2: Identify areas for dynamic data

The RIDs will provide opportunities for a wide-ranging amount of live data. Encompassing traffic flows, street lighting, residential and commercial energy use, energy generation, and similar data can help to inform decision making centrally on such issues as refuse collection, street repair, and lighting repair.

Step 3: Identify specific areas where data is required

Key non-dynamic data sets include workforce performance on projects. This may include time to completion, number of staff, delays due to absence, and similar. The precise data to be collected should be determined between CREDIT and the work packages.

Step 4: Establish requirement for consistent data collection as a step towards resilience.

The CREDIT team will conduct a baseline study of best practices from cities around data collection. A part of this study will look at consistent points of data collected and the frequency in which data is collected. These will be provided as recommendations to City Government Leadership to ultimately become standardized practice.

Step 5: Utilize data visualization techniques for enhanced communication and education opportunities

A member of CREDIT should engage with the IT Department and UNCC students and staff to develop visually pleasing interfaces. This data visualization is something that could be incorporated into online resources.

Task 2: Internalize Long Term Vision for Energy in FY20

It is recognized that there are considerable risks and associated learning curves with respect to transitioning to a low carbon future. Data collection approaches will need to help promote and inform the internalization of the long-term vision and will need to be promoted through Action Area 2. This will then need to be promoted with links to transportation, weather impacts, and onsite generation opportunities.

Task 3: Standardize Data-based Decision Making into Practice in 2021

Duke identifies that many customers have come to recognize the benefits that technology can bring and are no longer passive consumers of cheap energy. These changing practices may be seen elsewhere as Charlotteans increase the amount of data they have available.

Step 1: Provide training on data opportunities and integration

The amount and type of data can appear overwhelming so staff training should be offered, with data visualization techniques employed - potentially using dashboards.

Step 2: Demonstrate value through success stories to staff

Successful utilization of data should be promoted. Providing real life stories as to how data has been used to help Charlotteans is particularly helpful, especially where individual stories can be highlighted.

Task 4: Annually Monitor and Submit Emissions Inventory and Questionnaire to CDP

CDP (formerly the Carbon Disclosure Project) requires annual submissions relating to climate change. This includes an assessment of energy and emissions within the City. This inventory is based upon the Global Protocol for Cities (GPC) methodology. This is the methodology underpinning the targets within the Resolution. Additionally, there is an assessment of resilience and adaptation as part of the questionnaire. The report will need to be completed by July each year.

Step 1: Appoint a member of CREDIT to compile the energy and waste datasets

The energy and waste datasets represent the largest sources of emissions within Charlotte. These are broken into three main parts. The first part takes the waste and energy consumption data from City-owned buildings and fleet. The second part is the electricity and gas data provided by Duke. The third part is non-government owned transportation. The reporting is usually two years in arrears, meaning that in 2017, 2015 data would be reported.

Step 2: Compile internal energy and waste data

This data comprises the amount of natural gas and electricity consumed by buildings, the amount of fuels consumed by vehicles, the amount of renewable energy generated onsite, and the data pertaining to waste deposited to landfill sites.

Step 3: Collect energy data from Duke Energy

Duke holds the data on the total amount of electricity and gas consumed by customer type. This data will include the data from Step 2, so it will need to be subtracted. They also hold the data relating to the generation mix and its carbon intensity. In addition, Duke can provide the data on renewable energy facilities registered in Charlotte.

Step 4: Collect data from North Carolina Department of Transport (NCDOT)

NCDOT provides data on vehicle odometers by vehicle type. These datasets are provided on request, however ample time is suggested to collect the data and it is recommended that data is requested at least three months ahead of when it is required.

Step 5: Appoint a member of CREDIT to compile the resilience assessment as part of the CDP questionnaire

The resilience/adaptation assessment needs to be performed annually. This can be performed through the running of a workshop with the correct members of departments required to answer the questionnaire present. The questionnaire varies each year so the CREDIT member will need to check the questionnaire and establish the right people to bring together to provide the answers.

Task 5: Timeline and Measuring Progress

The SEAP will need to be updated and reviewed after the first two years, and then at five-year intervals in the period beyond. The reporting of progress will be to the CREDIT board in the first instance and then in the form of an annual report to Council. The precise structure for this will need to be established when CREDIT is formed. The timeline spreadsheet in the appendix should be used to identify progress on specific tasks. Wider measures of success linked to the projects external facing should also be included.