Smart meters: Distribution network operators’ privacy plans

The transition towards smart meters is expected to generate several benefits for consumers. Among them, network-related improvements could be delivered as a result of distribution network operators (DNOs) having access to smart meters data. This would allow a more detailed knowledge of network requirements and the possibility of planning and operating the grids accordingly.

Access to personal data 

Household-level electricity data that relates to a period of less than a month is considered to be personal data. Therefore, the access to such data by DNOs needs to comply with the relevant regulations on the treatment of personal data (Data Protection Act) and the privacy of customers using communications networks or services (Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations).

The conditions under which DNOs are allowed to access household-level Electricity Consumption Data from smart meters are set by Standard Licence Condition 10A (SLC10A) of the Electricity Distribution Licence. 

Data privacy plans

In order to access such data, DNOs submit so-called ‘data privacy plans’ to Ofgem, in which they state how they are going to anonymise the data and what benefits they expect from access to such data. 

The purpose of data privacy plans is to demonstrate that a DNO will be able to anonymise household electricity consumption data so it can no longer be attributed to a specific household. 

Our role

Our role is to assess the privacy plans and approve them if considered satisfactory. Moreover, we shall make sure that the DNOs comply with what is stated in their own plans when accessing the data and we will ensure our criteria for assessing these plans remains appropriate.

This page will host our letter setting out the criteria, the approved DNOs’ privacy plans and any other document which is relevant to the DNOs’ access to household-level smart meter data. 

Publications and updates

  • Published: 30th Sep 2016
  • Open letters and correspondence
  • 1 Associated documents
This letter describes our overall criteria for assessing the distribution network operators’ (DNOs) plans for access to household electricity smart metering data which relates to a period of less than a month.