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California PUC Issues Proposed Decision on Smart Grid Privacy

13 May 2011

California PUC Issues Proposed Decision on Smart Grid PrivacyOn May 6, 2011, the California PUC (CPUC) issued a proposed decision  by CPUC President Peevey addressing smart grid privacy and security. The proposed decision is part of a longstanding proceeding we first discussed here

The proposed decision represents a significant step towards a set of smart grid privacy rules in the United States during a time that smart grid privacy is attracting increasing global attention. For example, as discussed in the Chronicle of Data Protection post on April 18, 2011, the European Union’s Article 29 Working Party issued smart meter guidelines last month.

The California PUC Proposed Decision expressly embraces Fair Information Practice (FIP) principles. The proposed rules are designed around the FIP principles of Transparency, Purpose Specification, Individual Participation, Data Minimization, Use and Disclosure Limitation, Data Quality and Integrity, Data Security, Accountability and Auditing. A Future of Privacy Forum blog post available here provides a brief overview of the Proposed Decision and a longer “Future of Privacy Summary of California Public Utilities Commission Proposed on Smart Grid Privacy and Security” dated May 9, 2011, drafted by yours truly, provides more detail about the California PUC’s approach to the proposed rules and jurisdictional issues. The California PUC is accepting comments on the proposed decision until May 26, 2011.   

Smart meters and the smart grid present the prospect of empowering consumers to more efficiently control their energy usage and lower their bills, increasing consumers’ ability to use and manage smart appliances and new and innovative applications, fostering a reliable electricity grid, and helping to reduce carbon emissions. For an excellent background on Smart Grids and the privacy issues they present, see the white paper, Smart Privacy for the Smart Grid: Embedding Privacy in the Design of Electricity Conservation, co-authored by Hogan Lovells partner, Christopher Wolf.

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