Wish lists come in many forms. This time of year, the most prevalent ones are delivered to Santa Claus from children all over the world. But as we close in on the end of the year, now is the time to think big about what promise 2013 could hold.
We’re not talking about a renewed commitment to the treadmill, but rather what could come in the utility and smart grid industry. With a market shifting from just smart meters to increasing deep analytics and distributed intelligence on the grid, now is the time to sit back and dream big.
A wish list is just that, wishful thinking. Some of these wants might be delivered; others could never see the light of day. But that doesn’t stop us from dreaming.
10. Robust Privacy Rules for Consumers
There is a lot of data coming off of smart meters when they are fully turned on. There are a lot of companies that would like to get their hands on that data to design products and offerings to Americans -- as well as others who would look to do harm with that data.
For the millions of Americans that have smart meters bolted to the side of their house, it should come with robust privacy rules that ensure that the information is not given to anyone without their permission.
Some utilities and states, with California leading the way, focused on privacy, with rules to give confidence to consumers in 2012. San Diego Gas & Electric joined Ontario province earlier this year in making “Privacy by Design” the basis for its smart grid deployment.
The issue is not just critical in the U.S., but also in Europe, where privacy concerns are impacting smart meter rollouts. Some would argue that consumers happily log into their bank accounts via a smart phone, and that similar privacy measures are in place on smart meters.
But in many states, privacy rules are not spelled out the way they are in Ontario or California. In 2013, we hope many states will look to early adopters and other industries for robust rules. In some cases, third parties are leading the way with their own privacy rules.
It’s not enough to say that privacy is top of mind; it must be demonstrable. It’s not enough to attempt to be a leader within the utility industry in this area; utilities should strive to lead when compared against other industries. While it will likely continue to be a state-by-state issue, the real wish is that the feds -- and the White House -- put some effort in to ensure that utilities are investing in consumer privacy.