Utility Rate Database Description
OpenEI. Image credit: NASA Earth Observatory
The Utility Rate Database (URDB) is a free storehouse of rate structure information from utilities in the United States. Here, you can search for your utilities and rates to find out exactly how you are charged for your electric energy usage. Understanding this information can help reduce your bill, for example, by running your appliances during off-peak hours (times during the day when electricity prices are less expensive) and help you make more informed decisions regarding your energy usage.
Rates are also extremely important to the energy analysis community for accurately determining the value and economics of distributed generation such as solar and wind power. In the past, collecting rates has been an effort duplicated across many institutions. Rate collection can be tedious and slow, however, with the introduction of the URDB, OpenEI aims to change how analysis of rates is performed. The URDB allows anyone to access these rates in a computer-readable format for use in their tools and models. OpenEI provides an API for software to automatically download the appropriate rates, thereby allowing detailed economic analysis to be done without ever having to directly handle complex rate structures. Essentially, rate collection and processing that used to take weeks or months can now be done in seconds!
How Can the Utility Rate Database be Used?
Using the System Advisor Model with the URDB enables users to perform economic analyses of energy systems. The Impacts of Utility Rates and Building Type on the Economics of Commercial Photovoltaic Systems evaluates solar value for different rate structures across the United States.