SYMPOSIUM ARTICLE: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FUTURE OF ENERGY: PRIVACY AND SMART GRID: WHEN PROGRESS AND PRIVACY COLLIDE Skip over navigation
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Copyright (c) 2010 The University of Toledo
The University of Toledo Law Review

SYMPOSIUM ARTICLE: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE FUTURE OF ENERGY: PRIVACY AND SMART GRID: WHEN PROGRESS AND PRIVACY COLLIDE

Summer, 2010

The University of Toledo Law Review

41 U. Tol. L. Rev. 909

Author

Kevin L. Doran*

Excerpt



Introduction
 
THE U.S. electric grid--a staggeringly complex network of interconnected electric systems--is poised to undergo a major physical, operational and conceptual transformation with far reaching implications for the privacy of individuals. By incorporating literally millions of new intelligent components into the electric grid that deploy advanced two-way communication networks with interoperable and open protocols, the "smart grid" heralds a fundamental change in the electricity paradigm that has prevailed for more than a century. 3

This marriage of twenty-first century information technology with nineteenth century electricity technology is designed to achieve a spectrum of interconnected objectives ranging from greater efficiency, reliability, and grid security to more affordable, environmentally benign power and enhanced global competitiveness. 4 According to the usually rhetorically staid U.S. Department of Energy, smart grid is the sine qua non that "enables us to approach this matrix of complex issues all at once." 5

The essential innovation behind the smart grid is information--highly detailed electricity usage data communicated by and between the utility, the consumer, and in many instances, third-party vendors. However, while this information--and the extrapolations that can be made from it--is what enables the smart grid to be "smart," it is also what makes the smart grid so potentially invasive of individual privacy. 6 Smart grid data is a double-edged sword. The sharper the blade in terms of informational granularity, the more it can be wielded to achieve both societal benefits such as grid reliability and energy efficiency and invasions ...
 
 
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