Best utility data management solutions

Updated on Apr 3, 2024

best utility data management thumbnail
best utility data management thumbnail
best utility data management thumbnail

Efficient and accurate utility data management fuels sustainability, EHS, and energy operations. For today’s global organizations, the biggest challenge in utility data management is collecting energy, water, and natural gas data across thousands of data sources. For any overwhelmed sustainability manager or chief sustainability officer, this means building a system to accurately aggregate utility usage, implementing solutions to streamline data collection and ensure real-time accuracy, and hosting training sessions in multiple languages for each regional team to understand expectations for data quality.

Two main types of external solutions have emerged in this space: data services companies and utility data software companies. A handful of legacy organizations still choose to operate on increasingly expensive data specialists or consultants for manual data entry.

In this article, we discuss the criteria for judging utility data management solutions and break down the pros and cons of the most popular solutions. Finally, we compare them with alternatives like starting an offshore team or training EHS managers to work with a data management tool.

Criteria for Judging Utility Data Management Solutions

Automation and Integration

For a data management tool, automation capabilities are critical to reducing manual labor and minimizing errors. Look for solutions that fully automate utility data collection and processing, which eliminates the need for manual intervention. Integration with existing systems, such as ERP and energy management systems, ensures seamless data flow and enhances efficiency. Effective utility management also means compatibility with various billing formats and protocols.

Coverage and Accuracy

Consider the coverage of utility companies and the types of data sources (electricity, gas, water) the solution supports. Comprehensive coverage ensures effective management of all your utility accounts. Accuracy is paramount. Solutions should offer robust measures to ensure data quality and minimize errors, such as two-factor authentication.

Cost and Scalability

Evaluate the initial setup costs, ongoing subscription or maintenance fees, and potential labor savings. The solution should be cost-effective, especially for large-scale operations. Scalability is crucial to accommodating business growth and increasing data volume without significant additional costs. Solutions that do not require training on templates or providing examples of PDFs for parsing can further reduce costs and complexity.

Additional Features

Advanced analytics and reporting capabilities can provide valuable insights into utility usage and sustainability metrics. Getting cost data and emissions tracking is a plus. This will help companies make informed decisions and enhance their sustainability initiatives. Effective data services should also support data storage and interval data, which will help make business operations more efficient.

Best Utility Data Management Solutions

1. Nectar


  • Fully automated data collection and processing.

  • Comprehensive coverage of utility companies globally.

  • Seamless handling of two-factor authentication in utility accounts.

  • Cost-effective for large-scale operations.

  • Comprehensive usage and cost data analytics.

  • Integrates with various sustainability platforms and energy star portfolio manager.


  • Limited support for real-time interval data.

Summary: Nectar stands out as the top choice for its automation capabilities, extensive global coverage, and scalable pricing structure, making it ideal for the medium to large enterprises. Nectar is the best option for sustainability and energy management teams looking to access utility usage data on a continuous basis without real-time interval data. Nectar’s automated systems significantly reduce the risk of human error, providing accurate and timely data. For a company with 50 facilities, 300 utility accounts, and 5000 utility bills annually, automation can save significant labor costs estimated at $40/hr for manual data entry and personnel training.

2. Arcadia


  • User-friendly interface.

  • Includes support for real-time interval data.


  • Limited coverage of utility companies.

  • Cannot handle two-factor authentication effectively.

  • Limited service.

  • Prone to inaccuracies due to partial automation.

Summary: Arcadia is a solid choice for smaller operations but falls short in coverage and authentication handling. While it offers some automation, its limitations can lead to data inaccuracies and increased organizational risk. Furthermore, Arcadia's pace of innovation and minimal service prevent new integrations with utility companies to be added quickly, leading to poor global coverage. The labor cost savings are moderate compared to fully automated solutions, and manual oversight may still be required.

3. Automation Features built into Carbon Accounting Platforms


  • Built into existing carbon accounting systems.

  • Provides detailed emissions tracking.


  • Limited to carbon accounting purposes.

  • Often requires manual data input for utility data.

  • Very limited coverage.

  • High risk of data entry errors.

Summary: Some carbon accounting platforms such as Acuity, Unravel Carbon, and Greenly have some built in utility data workflows for specific areas of the United States. These features are often sufficient for small companies with fewer than 10 facilities focused primarily on using their utility data for carbon accounting. The tools built into carbon accounting platforms lack the automation needed for broader utility data processing and are often built on the backs of energy consultants entering the data behind the software. Manual data entry increases the risk of errors, leading to potential inaccuracies and higher costs. Overall, if these features work for an organization that is small and doesn't need additional analytics on energy data, by all means stick with it! But the moment an organization outgrows these tools, it is time to adopt best practices and look for a standalone software solution.

4. Utility API


  • Offers robust API for real-time utility data access.

  • Customizable for different needs.


  • Only provides the API, no additional support.

  • Requires in-house development to integrate and utilize.

  • Limited coverage of utilities (fewer than 200 utility providers).

Summary: Best for companies with strong in-house tech teams, but not suited for those needing turnkey solutions. Utility API focuses on building strong real time data connectors to local energy companies within the US. This allows the API to provide fast real time updates for each meter, but only for a limited number of utility companies. While this solution often turns out to be the most cost effective for companies with facilities in a concentrated geographic region, the cost of maintaining the integration and ongoing maintenance may outweigh the eventual benefits.

5. Training ESG and Facility Managers


  • Enhances internal expertise and capabilities.

  • Creates greater organizational buy-in for sustainability initiatives.

  • Customizable training programs.


  • High initial and ongoing costs.

  • Time-consuming to achieve proficiency.

  • High potential for human error in data processing.

Summary: Effective in the long-term for developing internal skills but expensive and time-intensive initially. The risk of data entry errors remains high, impacting accuracy and organizational efficiency. Training staff involves high labor costs, making this a less attractive option compared to automated solutions. The cost can be significant for a large-scale operation.

6. Schneider Electric Resource Advisor


  • Comprehensive energy and sustainability management platform.

  • Real-time data insights and analytics.

  • Strong integration with existing Schneider Electric solutions.

  • Robust support and customer service.


  • Higher cost compared to other solutions.

  • Requires significant initial setup and integration efforts.

  • Complexity may require additional training for staff.

  • Significant error rate for utility usage data processing.

Summary: Schneider Electric's Resource Advisor is a powerful solution for energy and sustainability management, offering comprehensive features and real-time insights. However, it comes with higher costs and complexity, making it more suitable for organizations with significant budgets and existing infrastructure. But the most concerning aspect of Resource Advisor has been the accuracy level of their utility data processing system. Even with the best analytics and graphs of all the solutions, all is for naught if the underlying data is inaccurate.


Choosing the right utility data processing solution depends on your company's size, needs, and resources. Automated solutions like Nectar offer significant advantages in terms of efficiency, coverage, and connectivity, making them the best choice for large-scale operations. Automated systems reduce the risk of human error, ensuring data accuracy and saving costs associated with manual data entry. In the end, what the best practices are depend on your organization's needs!

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