CA Plan Protects Smart Meter Data

Friday, May 20, 2011 @ 03:05 PM gHale


A new set of rules to protect the security and privacy of consumer data collected by the state’s utility companies via new smart metering technology is now in the proposal state from California’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC).

The goal of the proposal is to secure customer usage data collected by smart meters deployed by the Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison. The rules would also cover all contractors and other third parties that work with utility companies in the state and have access to the usage data.

PUC released the 143-page document detailing the proposed rules earlier this month and is open for public comment until the end of May.

If adopted, California would become the first state to implement standards for protecting the privacy of data collected by smart meters.

The U.S. Department of Energy and several privacy groups have issued warnings about the privacy risks posed by the collection and use of electricity usage data from smart meters.

Smart meters, designed to collect energy consumption data from homes and transmit it back to power distribution companies for billing, network and demand management purposes, are a crucial component of the smart grid.

The technology also lets consumers view their energy usage patterns to help them better manage home energy use.

While smart meters can help utility companies and consumers better manage electricity consumption, critics and some backers have concerns they could disclose detailed information about the behavior and activities of households. In fact, the Energy Department last year called for regulating how utility companies can collect, store, access and share data collected by smart meters.

California’s proposed rules would require utility companies implement specific steps for controlling third-party access to the data, and they would allow consumers to have greater control of it.

Customers would also eventually have access to near-real-time usage, pricing and billing data under the proposal.



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