Europe’s data privacy laws threatens energy management programs, SEDC says


Jessica Stromback,
Executive Director,
Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — June 10, 2013

With Europe’s current data protection laws, under which consumers may be required to opt-in for access to their energy usage data, no more than 5-10% can be expected to, which would substantially reduce the anticipated energy efficiency benefits of smart metering and energy management technologies, according to the Smart Energy Demand Coalition (SEDC).

In a new position paper the SEDC estimates that with a reduction in usage of 2-3% – that typically experienced in markets where consumers receive informative bills and consumption reports – savings of 20-25 TWh could be created across Europe. However, if only 5-10% of consumers received such information, the potential savings would be reduced by as much as 95% to only 1.25 TWh.

In effect, if the business case for energy efficiency services is removed or if no programs are offered, data privacy laws will ensure no effective services will be available. Thus, consumers will in effect be blocked from accessing their own meter interval data – data they will be paying the utility to measure.

“European policy makers must recognize the potential risks to energy efficiency benefits and consumer data access from restrictive data protection proposals,” commented Jessica Stromback, executive director of the SEDC. “This is an artificial conflict between efficiency and privacy which is unnecessary and should be resolved.”

The paper states that SEDC fully supports the need for personal data privacy and security, but does not see this as contradictory to access to the interval data necessary to fulfill the promise of energy efficiency. Data access and the ability to process such data, by entities providing electricity service to customers and who require use of the data for legitimate interest and to meet EU directives, is critical if the EU is to promote its energy efficiency objectives and to develop its energy services sector.

The SEDC believes that the EU should specifically define TSOs and DSOs as having a “legitimate interest” in the processing of interval data of the specific customers they service. Retailers and energy service providers must also have access to the data in order to fulfill public service obligations, and/or the terms of their contractual obligations. This should be possible in a fair and open manner, through mechanisms which encourage and enable the creation of energy efficiency services to consumers.

As the current Data Privacy Measurement does not guarantee these requirements, it should therefore be strengthened.