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DECC Proposes New Smart Meter Privacy Guidelines

The Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has recently issued a consultation on a proposal to regulate the level of access that utility suppliers have to energy consumption data via smart meters.

The proposal comes as smart meters are set to roll out more widely over the rest of the decade in the UK, in order to empower consumers to better understand their energy use, and hopefully reduce carbon emissions and save money on bills.

However, the DECC notes that while the energy industry will also be able to operate more efficiently by making use of smart meter data, there are privacy concerns regarding the exact data which can be gleaned, and how it is used.

Most importantly, the government believes that consumers should have a choice about how much data they make available to their suppliers.

Under the proposed framework, energy firms would only have access to monthly meter data by default. Access to daily data would also be allowed, but customers would be able to opt out of this measure, if they wish. That data also wouldn't be usable for marketing purposes.

Access to hourly data would require the company to get the customer's express permission (opt-in).

The DECC's proposal also makes provisions for consumers to share data with third parties, such as comparison sites, should they wish - but stipulates safeguards such as the verification that a request to share has come from the actual homeowner.

It seems a sensible set of guidelines, and a necessary one given that the government wants the vast majority of households and business premises in the UK to be equipped with smart meters by the time 2020 rolls around.