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“Smart meters” installed at utility customers’ homes will enable consumers, and possibly utility companies themselves, to monitor, manage and control individual home consumption of utility services such as gas and electric power.  Mindful of consumer privacy, the California Public Utility Commission (CPUC) recently issued a Notice of Proposed Decision in Rulemaking 08-12-009 regarding the privacy and security of customer usage data deriving from smart meters.  Under the proposed rules, utilities would be required to protect customer data privacy, while enabling customers to give access to third-party vendors of related services, such as energy management and other customer service applications.  The utilities will file tariffs for CPUC approval that require third parties seeking access to customer energy and usage data, to follow the same data privacy requirements the CPUC is imposing directly on utilities.  Importantly for independent providers of home monitoring, security, alarm and home electronic management services, the CPUC lacks authority over data from devices directly owned or operated by customers, which do not acquire data directly from the utility (as opposed to acquiring data in the customer’s home on the customer’s side of utility connections).  For such independent service providers, customers may provide their own data directly without regard to the proposed CPUC rules or tariffs, which to that extent lack jurisdiction.  As home monitoring and smart metering services, technologies and capabilities continue to grow, we’ll be keeping an eye on customer privacy, CPUC jurisdiction and independent services issues.

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