Editorial: Pull the plug on energy database

March 29, 2013
By

The Boston City Council should pull the plug on Mayor Menino’s proposed ordinance to force owners of large buildings to report their energy usage and monitor tenants’ utility bills.

The idea is big-government meddling that is a solution in search of a problem, an onerous burden on landlords and a threat to citizens’ privacy.

Menino’s administration argues that what is counted is managed. Well, energy already is counted. It’s called the utility bill, and believe us, it already makes people manage their energy usage.

The mass of data sought does not relate exclusively to structural efficiency. It would also report how much tenants like to use a computer or watch TV or take hot baths. Such data can be mined for nefarious ends while being totally useless for this proposal’s goal.

A great argument for increasing energy efficiency is that is saves money. The worst way to make that argument is creating a new bureaucracy of fines and audits that will cost money. There are plenty of incentives and educational programs the City can employ without burdening property owners and compromising privacy.