A Regulator's Privacy Guide to Third Party Data Access for Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency has become a widely accepted public policy across the United States. Program administrators in more than 40 states are implementing energy efficiency programs funded by either electric or gas utility customers.
With the advent of smart meters, approximately one-third of U.S. homes now have devices that are capable of collecting and communicating more detailed data about individual customers’ energy usage. Interval usage data from smart meters in conjunction with other enabling technologies (e.g., information/feedback tools, smart appliances) offer even greater opportunities for optimizing energy efficiency programs.
In addition to administrators of customer-funded efficiency programs, access to consumer data presents a significant opportunity for other actors in the energy efficiency services market. For example, many of these actors play a role in educating customers about energy usage monitoring and home energy upgrades, often providing services that go beyond those encouraged by customer-funded programs. The inability for energy efficiency service providers (EESPs) to gain access to the data because of legitimate privacy concerns creates a barrier to realizing many of the benefits from these services. Often, regulatory commissions confront and must resolve two competing policy imperatives: (1) the need to facilitate access to customer data for energy efficiency purposes while (2) safeguarding customer privacy and providing consumer protections in connection with unwanted uses of data. This report informs state regulators about issues and policy options related to providing access to customer information held by utilities that can be used to support and enhance provision of energy efficiency services and protect customer privacy.
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