On the same day that Cisco unveiled a new touch-screen gateway device to manage home energy usage, the U.S. Department of Energy held a public forum Tuesday examining a critical set of policy issues raised by a smart grid. The focus? “Empowering Consumers and the Smart Grid: Data Access, Third Party Use, and Privacy.”
At the forum, Cisco’s Jeff Campbell made our perspective clear: Electricity consumers should have secure access to their energy usage information and should have the power to choose which technologies will give them control over managing their home energy use in a way that reflects their personal preferences and priorities.
Other panelists agreed: Government should not pre-determine through policy or regulation what consumers want to do – or not do – with their home energy use data.
All agreed that government can – and should – play an important role in making sure that utilities and third-parties protect the privacy of consumer information, and in sharing policy frameworks and best practices to ensure that customers have access to energy usage information, if they want it; to enforce privacy protections, if needed, and; to educate consumers about how the benefits of smart grid ultimately flow to the consumer.
Clearly, giving consumers the tools to participate in smart grid will go a long way towards engaging consumers and earning their support for smart grid.