Electricity consumers now entitled to access meter data

Review of legislation establishes consumers right to access information on their own electricity consumption from a meter

Electricity consumers could soon have access to a wealth of data on their power consumption. The Electricity Authority has decided customers are allowed access to their detailed meter data and that multiple parties can provide it to them.

The authority has resolved the final two points in its long-running review of legislation and regulations affecting standards for electricity meters, including so-called “smart meters”.

The findings have established that the consumer has a right to access information on their own minute-by-minute electricity consumption from a meter, but has stopped short of making specific regulations obliging the meter supplier to provide such access. There is no need to amend the Electricity Industry Participation Code to provide such a right, the authority has decided, since the right already exists.

“The Privacy Act 1993 gives individuals a legal right to request access to, and to receive personal information held by an agency, including electricity retailers and their service providers (eg metering equipment providers),” says the authority. “The definition of personal information includes data and information available from a metering installation.”

The right concerned is conferred by Principle 6 of the Privacy Act. However, the right could be more theoretical than practical; under Section 29 of the Act, the holder of such information is entitled to decline to supply it if “it is not readily retrievable”.

The authority has also decided that the provision of consumption information to the customer should not be an exclusive right of the meter provider.

The provider is obliged to ensure accuracy of metering, the code says, but “the authority does not view this obligation as establishing a right for those retailers to preclude other parties from providing metering services and data to consumers.”

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