October 7, 2010

Advances in Smart Grid technology could significantly increase the amount of potentially available information about personal energy consumption. Such information could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment. Consumers rightfully expect that the privacy of this information will be maintained. The proprietary business information of non-residential customers could also be revealed through the release of energy consumption data, resulting in competitive harm. Studies conducted by utilities and consumer advocates have consistently shown that privacy issues are of tremendous import to consumers of electricity.

At the same time, access to consumer data continues to be of importance to utilities for operational purposes and to achieve the important national goals, discussed above, that Smart Grid technologies will advance. In addition, access to such data by consumers and authorized third parties has significant potential to enable American consumers to understand their energy use, and thus become more proactive in managing that use, ultimately saving money on their energy bills and becoming more efficient consumers of energy.

The Paper

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