SDG&E incorporates “˜privacy by design’ in smart grid


Caroline Winn,
VP Customer
Services, SDG&E
San Diego, CA, U.S.A. — (METERING.COM) — April 5, 2012 – San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) working with the Office of the Information and Privacy Commissioner of Ontario, Canada, has become the first utility in the U.S. to incorporate the concept of “Privacy by Design” in its smart grid initiative.

The concept was developed by Ontario privacy commissioner Ann Cavoukian in the 1990s to address the growing effects of ICTs and large scale networked systems. With the advent of smart metering and smart grids Cavoukian has actively promoted “Privacy by Design” with the result that it is being adopted increasingly by utilities.

“Privacy is a fundamental right of every one of our customers and a priority of the company,” said Caroline Winn, vice president of customer services and chief customer privacy officer for SDG&E. “We look forward to helping develop progressive and innovative ways that will continue to ensure that consumer energy data is managed in a responsible manner throughout the modernization of our electric grid.”

SDG&E’s privacy governance framework, outlined in a joint white paper, is aimed to building a strong culture of privacy within the company, safeguarding the information customers have entrusted to them and adhering to fundamental privacy principles that put customer privacy first. Further, the company aims to comply with all applicable privacy laws and regulations and to listen to customers’ ideas and concerns about privacy and addressing them proactively.
Within the context of the smart grid the 7 foundational principles of Privacy by Design are:

  1. Smart grid systems should feature privacy principles in their overall project governance framework and proactively embed privacy requirements into their designs, in order to prevent privacy-invasive events from occurring.
  2. Smart grid systems must ensure that privacy is the default – the “no action required” mode of protecting one’s privacy – its presence being assured.
  3. Smart grid systems must make privacy a core functionality in the design and architecture of smart grid systems and practices – an essential design feature.
  4. Smart grid systems must avoid any unnecessary trade-offs between privacy and legitimate objectives of smart grid projects.
  5. Smart grid systems must embed privacy end-to-end, throughout the entire life cycle of any personal information collected.
  6. Smart grid systems must be visible and transparent to consumers – engaging in accountable business practices – to ensure that new smart grid systems operate according to stated objectives.
  7. Smart grid systems must be designed with respect for consumer privacy, as a core foundational requirement.

One of the first customer solutions incorporating Privacy by Design will be a new energy management tool giving customers more detailed information on their energy use and ways to save. This tool will be available to customers starting in May.

In addition to the appointment of Winn as chief customer privacy officer, SDG&E has also formed a working group to oversee privacy compliance.