The Associated Press reports on some privacy questions in Vermont concerning “smart grid” technology, which we’ve discussed before. “Smart grids” are the case where utilities would be able to collect granular data about consumers’ energy consumption — down to the daily electricity use by the fridge in your kitchen or the TV in your bedroom.
Vermont utility regulators and civil libertarians say they’re worried a new technology designed to reduce electric use could threaten the privacy of Vermonters. […]
The sophisticated electric [smart grid] meters due to be installed on some Vermont homes and businesses, monitor how much electricity is used at certain times of day, and it can even monitor which appliances are using the power.
But that same information could become valuable to companies seeking to sell customers items based on their electric use. And police could conceivably use the information to determine if someone is breaking the law, by, for example, using large amounts of electricity as part of an indoor marijuana growing operation.
The Public Service Board is considering privacy as part of its review of the smart grid plans. […]
Vermont utilities have signed on to a set of principles for the smart grid and the first one deals with says consumer data.
“We will treat the information that is gathered like it’s our own information, our own private information. It won’t be shared with any third parties without the customer’s permission. And it will be used only to help improve the management of the system and the way the grid works,” said Steve Costello, a spokesman for Central Vermont Public Service Corp., the state’s largest electric utility.