Privacy: the “Sleeper Issue” in Smart Grid 2.0

“Privacy is the sleeper issue of Smart Grid development” pronounced the Privacy Commissioner of Ontario at a recent industry event in California.  At Genability, we think she’s right.

As Smart Grid 2.0 begins to take shape, Governments and Utilities are frantically retooling the aging grid to reduce electricity consumption, particularly at peak times, when the cost of power is the highest. 

The Smart Grid concept extends broadly, from technology that lets Utilities better manage intermittent renewable power, to household meters that communicate with distribution companies every 15 minutes to record power usage, programmable appliances, storage and generation-enabled Electric Vehicle batteries, and a host of other powerful programs.

For the new system to work, consumers will need to trust that Utitlities, Governments and innovator companies will safeguard your personal household information, like what kind of electronic equipment you own, when you turn it on or off, how you heat your home,  what kind of vehicle you own.   At Genability, we are understand the fears that arise, and take them seriously. 

We are embedding privacy considerations right into the design and development phase. “We recognize that privacy needs to be designed right the first time, and built into the main architecture of our products and services,” says Jason Riley, CEO and Founder of Genability.  “In the energy data context, we need to get it right from the outset. We want to earn and keep the trust of energy consumers. We won’t have the luxury of re-jigging and re-tooling our privacy policies and settings over time. ”

To achieve grid efficiencies, energy production and demand data needs to be open and available to innovators, at a granular level.  At the same time, we need to rigorously and effectively protect the privacy and security of the individual.  At Genability, we believe there is a technological solution, and we are building it right the first time.

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2 Comments

  1. Mark Adkins
    Posted June 1, 2011 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Interesting article. It’s actually a double-edge sword though. While privacy concerns with regard to Smart Meter data are real, the lack of customer (or business) access to this data (outside of jumping through many, many hoops placed their by the utility) limits competition. Even in deregulated energy markets, the utility places tight controls on access to this information. It is incredibly difficult to conceptualize and build useful tools for end consumers without access to both historical and real-time customer consumption. Imagine being able to have competing marketers bid against one another to service my account? Can’t do it effectively without access to consumption data. Ask any broker or energy retailer across the U.S. who has worked in a deregulated or regulated energy market and they will tell you the same thing – it is very difficult to innovate in energy markets due to the utilities monopolistic control of energy data.

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