ERANZ Core Data Values
Responsible and ethical collection, use and management of customer data are matters of increasing interest for customers. Privacy, security, and driving innovation from customer data are all important considerations as technology allows us to better understand use of energy systems and help lower costs for individual consumers.
These Core Data Values are the electricity retailers' commitment to a culture of best practice and enhancing customer confidence and trust in the data practices of ERANZ members.
What do we mean by customer data?
When we talk about customer data, we are referring to data about how much and when electricity is used by a customer linked to their household or business, as well as personal information such as name, address, medical dependent status or other matters, and payment details.
Why are we talking about data?
Smart meters have been rolled out to over 75% of New Zealand connections with an expectation of around 90% coverage within the next few years. Smart meters record the amount of electricity a customer has used on a half-hourly, daily or monthly basis. These meters have meant that readings are no longer estimated but are always based on actual readings. As technology develops, there is the potential for smart meters to help customers better understand what electricity they use, or produce or store. It also means other services can develop to improve and manage use of household appliances, and for the whole system to become more efficient as use of electricity, at a more granulated level, becomes more visible.
The New Zealand Data Futures Partnership realised in their work that there was a need to talk about data and data use more so that New Zealanders can understand their feelings and perspectives on data use and to help organisations build and maintain the trust of those whose data they wish to use. This is part of that process for electricity retailers.
Customers' right to their data
Electricity customers in New Zealand can easily get their electricity consumption and connection data from their electricity retailer at any time (and up to four times a year at no charge). To request this information a customer simply needs to contact their retailer by phone, email or through their website. Customers can also authorise others to access their consumption data on their behalf.
This information can help customers make an informed choice, for example to decide whether they want to switch to another retailer or stay with their current one, or to understand how energy management services could benefit them to reduce costs.
Why is customer data shared?
Electricity retailers also receive requests for customer data from a number of different parties.
Some of that data is shared when required by law or when it is requested by a government agency. Sometimes it is shared during the switching process. Sometimes it is shared to enable research or innovation.
These other parties' requests for and access to customer data are carefully considered to ensure that a customers' privacy rights are protected, as well as enabling the benefits and value from that data to be realised.
Who can request customer data?
Electricity network operators (the lines companies) can request customer data through their contracts with retailers. There is certain data necessary for the management of the use of the electricity distribution network.
Requests may also come from entities such as the Electricity Authority, New Zealand Police, Ministry of Social Development and others. Requests can take the form of court orders or warrants, requests under specific legislation, or requests to release information backed up by a statutory power to require disclosure.
How do retailers handle requests for data?
Electricity retailers do not automatically release customer information when they receive a request. For each request received, electricity retailers will assess it to see whether it is consistent with the Privacy Act, the retailer's policies, the terms and conditions with the customer. They will also consider whether it is reasonable and necessary to meet the stated aims of the party requesting the customer data. If a retailer is not satisfied of all these things, then they may refuse the request or seek further clarification. Not all requests are the same and each one has to be assessed on its own merits.
Principles used in developing the Core Data Values
These values were developed following consultation with the Office of the Privacy Commissioner and the Data Futures Partnership.