Smart grid technologies have the capacity to create tremendous new value for electricity consumers: from advanced IT and communication technologies that improve the overall operation of our nation’s electricity transmission and distribution networks; to smart meters and digital sensors that help utilities quickly identify and minimize the extent of outages when they do occur. In addition, consumers now have the ability to monitor and manage their electricity use in far greater detail by tapping into the data generated by smart meters.
Many of these emerging technologies—which provide tremendous benefits not only for the nation’s electric system but for consumers throughout the United States—will result in an increase in the amount of data collected regarding grid operating characteristics, including customer energy use data. As the nation’s electric infrastructure is modernized, it is critically important to ensure that the collection of data is performed in a manner that yields the greatest benefits for consumers, while continuing to rigorously protect their privacy.
Much progress has been made toward this goal to date. Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability, in coordination with the Federal Smart Grid Task Force, finalized a 22-month multi-stakeholder effort to develop a Voluntary Code of Conduct (VCC) for utilities and third parties on protecting electricity consumers’ Customer Data which includes energy usage information. The VCC, once launched, will reflect input from stakeholders across the electricity industry and incorporate comments and responses from the public that were collected via DOE’s Federal Register Notice issued last year. The VCC addresses and includes provisions for the following key principles:
Over the coming months, the Administration looks forward to discussing these issues further with utility companies and other stakeholders to ensure that consumers are protected while enjoying the many opportunities and benefits made possible with smart grid technologies.
Follow progress on this topic at https://smartgrid.gov/privacy.
Dipayan Ghosh is an advisor to the Chief Technology Officer at the Office of Science and Technology Policy at the White House.
Eric Lightner is the director of the Federal Smart Grid Task Force at the U.S. Department of Energy.