25-07-2011 TACD Calls for Customer-Centered Standards for Smart Meters
July 25, 2011
TACD Recommendations for Governments and Utility Service Providers: Smart Meters Need Customer-Centered Standards
The deployment of the Smart Grid and intelligent power meters warrants close attention by policymakers in order to ensure that promises of consumer protection, privacy controls, cost savings and social benefits are fully realized, according to two resolutions released by the Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) at its June annual meeting in Brussels.
While industry and some government entities promise that a smart electrical grid will save energy, protect consumers, safeguard the environment and ultimately save money for all stakeholders, consumer advocates on both sides of the Atlantic call for independent study of these anticipated benefits.
“Properly designed regulations and policies created with adequate feedback from consumer and privacy advocates will ensure that the Smart Grid truly empowers consumers with privacy protections, energy savings and more manageable bills,” said Lillie Coney of the U.S.-based Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), co-author of the “Resolution on Privacy and Security Related to Smart Meters” agreed by TACD’s Information Society Policy Committee.
Focusing on privacy and data protection, this resolution explains that smart meter technology allows multi-directional communication between homes, utilities, and third-party energy management providers (and later appliance manufacturers) on moment-to-moment consumption of electricity. These new, intelligent meters that can directly report on electricity consumption within a home or business, allowing detailed information collection on how electricity is consumed within homes and businesses. This presents the potential for smart meters to become a ”spy in the home”: “The dramatic increase in the granularity of data available and frequency of collection of household energy consumption means that the smallest detail of household life can be revealed...”
Smart grids, which feature innovations in the hardware and software that support more efficient electricity delivery, are being widely deployed and widely touted to reduce utility customer costs. In its “Resolution on Smart Grids” the TACD Sustainability and Climate Change Policy Committee questions these relentlessly upbeat messages to consumers regarding the cost-saving benefits of the Smart Grid.
“The anticipated social, environmental and consumer benefits of these technologies have not been measured or quantified and should regularly be reported by governments,” said Monika Buening of the Federation of German Consumer Organisations and co-chair of the Sustainability and Climate Change Working Group. “Much of the discussion to date on smart meters and Smart Grids has been industry-driven— consumer needs are not sufficiently taken into account.”
The Smart Grid resolution recommends a thorough cost benefit assessment, ground rules for maximum benefits to consumers and tax payers, close scrutiny of social equity calculations and more investigation into the need for smart appliances. Consumer expectations should be understood and fulfilled, and consumers should not bear the risk if energy savings do not materialize as promised, concludes the resolution.
Both resolutions recommend standards and regulatory requirements as critical to consumer protection against risks ranging from inadequately designed and implemented Smart Grid technology to unforeseen consequences of new technology rollouts. They may be viewed at Resolution on Smart Grids and Resolution on Privacy and Security Related to Smart Meters
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The Transatlantic Consumer Dialogue (TACD) is a forum of US and EU consumer organizations, which develops and agrees on joint consumer policy recommendations to the US government and European Union to promote the consumer interest in EU and US policymaking. To learn more about TACD visit: http://tacd.org
TACD Sustainability and Climate Change Policy Committee Monika Buening Policy Officer Environment, Product Safety and Standardization 0049 30 25800 442
TACD Information Society Policy Committee Lillie Coney Associate Director EPIC 202-483-1140 x 111
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