Smart Meter Energy Data Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG)

 

Exploring how smart energy data could better serve the public interest

Project duration: November 2017 ongoing

Together with Centre for Sustainable Energy (CSE) we're convening a work programme to investigate how smart meter energy data could be put to work in the public interest and how that can be balanced against the need for individual's privacy and data security. The 18 month project brings together a range of relevant stakeholders to hold an informed and structured policy dialogue on these issues.

The data being captured by the smart electricity and gas meters being installed in every home and business across Great Britain has the potential to transform our understanding of how and when energy is used. In so doing, it could significantly enhance the future design of public policy and market regulation and smarten up the planning and operation of the energy system at national and local scale.

But there are significant and legitimate privacy concerns about whether such data, if accessed without the householder’s consent, could reveal too much about individual lifestyles or make people vulnerable to unsolicited marketing by energy suppliers and others. As a result, the government has put in place robust controls on access to the high resolution data recorded by the meters.

How could we balance the public interest in achieving better societal outcomes and the individual rights to privacy and data security? This question is at the heart of the Smart Meter Energy Data Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG).
PIAG is exploring how we could best realise the potentially significant ‘public interest’ benefits of installing smart meters in every home.

With research, analysis, stakeholder engagement and a series of exploratory workshops with the PIAG membership, the Sustainability First and CSE project team are developing an understanding of:

  • Public interest principles and data ethics that could apply to smart energy data.
  • Potential uses for smart energy meter data which would meet a public interest test.
  • How the smart energy data would need to be accessed and analysed to serve these uses.
  • Current and potential future arrangements for smart meter data access and privacy protection.
  • International experience with smart meter data.

For more detail about the project including the stakeholders involved and the stimulus papers, research notes and other outputs to date from the project, please visit the project website at www.smartenergydatapiag.org.uk.

The PIAG’s work programme has been informed by two papers commissioned by CSE & Sustainability First in 2015 on household smart meter data and the public interest agenda from a national and a sub-national perspective (downloadable here) and an initial stakeholder roundtable in March 2016 exploring the issues raised by these papers and the controls which have been put in place to control availability and access to smart meter data to protect consumer privacy. The project is working closely with the EPSRC-funded Smart Meter Research Portal being led by UCL.

PIAG membership includes representatives of :
BEIS, UCL Smart Meter Research Portal*, Ofgem*, the Energy Systems Catapult*, the Data Communications Company*, National Grid*, Elexon*, Northern Power Grid*, Citizens Advice, the Committee on Climate Change, CSE (Centre for Sustainable Energy), Energy Networks Association, Energy Saving Trust, Energy-UK, Greater London Authority, MHCLG (Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government), the National Infrastructure Commission, Office for National Statistics, Scottish Government, Smart Energy GB, Sustainability First, techUK, UKERC, TEDDINET / Edinburgh University, Universities of Exeter & Reading, CAR (Cambridge Architecture Research Ltd), Welsh Government, and Which?
*Denotes funding partner