Smart meter data: balancing consumer privacy concerns with legitimate applications

Smart meters are being rolled out in large numbers throughout the world, with proponents claiming they are a critical step in the transition to a low-carbon economy. Yet there are significant unresolved negative reactions to smart meters, principally based on the concern that smart meters might be used to infer the private activities that occur within a dwelling. Though smart meter data is classified as personal data, and as such protected under existing data protection frameworks in the EU, there are relevant exceptions, notably where the data is required for legitimate applications associated with the performance of 'regulated duties'. This paper contributes to this debate by examining the data requirements for some of the proposed applications of smart meter data within the electricity supply industry, and investigates whether the use of personal data can be minimized or even avoided. The discussion includes system balancing, demand reduction, demand response and distribution network operation and planning, and indicates that, for most of these applications, the requirements for personal data can indeed be minimized. 'Privacy friendly' alternatives are discussed.

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CC BY-NC-ND 4.0