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Energy industry begins to call data quality into question

Richard Jones

September 23, 2013

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The energy industry has become increasingly reliant on big data in recent years. Private energy companies want to make sure they're using all their resources in the most efficient ways possible, and to find that out, they must gather more information. They want to find out who is using their energy resources, when, where and how much.

Unfortunately for the industry, there's been a lot of commotion lately about the lack of clarity in today's energy data. Companies are no longer confident that they can trust the information they've gathered.

This is a problem with both public and private officials in the energy industry. Those who run for-profit companies have an interest in making sure their money isn't wasted, while those in government positions want to make sure their constituents are using energy wisely.

New York state is having an especially tough time grappling with matters of data quality. Mark Mitchell, director of internal audits for the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, recently told the Albany newspaper The Times Union that there are "major concerns" about the quality of information that energy researchers are gathering.

"There doesn't seem to be a respect and understanding of the importance of not just going in and making willy-nilly changes to the database," Mitchell said.

Mitchell pointed out that data on energy use is the basis for the state's energy policy. By collecting information on individuals, families and businesses that consume power resources, the state government can make better decisions about regulating these provisions. Without clean data, the government is powerless in this area.

New York is hardly an isolated case. Energy overseers everywhere, public and private, are clamoring for more data quality. With it, they can make pivotal decisions about the future of the world's resources.

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