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Smart Meter Energy Data Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG)

A smart energy meter

Exploring how smart energy data could better serve the public interest

Project duration: November 2017 to November 2021

Together with Sustainability First, CSE convened a work programme to investigate how smart meter energy data could be put to work in the public interest and how that could be balanced against the need for individual privacy and data security. Two phases of the project over a period of four years brought together a range of relevant stakeholders to hold an informed and structured policy dialogue on these issues.

The data being captured by the smart electricity and gas meters being installed in every home and business across Great Britain has the potential to transform our understanding of how and when energy is used. In so doing, it could significantly enhance the future design of policies and market regulations and smarten up the planning and operation of the energy system at national and local scales.

But there are significant and legitimate privacy concerns about whether such data, if accessed without the householder’s consent, could reveal too much about individual lifestyles or make people vulnerable to unsolicited marketing tactics by energy suppliers and others. As a result, the government put in place robust controls on access to the high-resolution data recorded by the meters.

Smart Meter Energy Data Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG)

How could we balance the public interest in achieving better societal outcomes and the individual rights to privacy and data security? This question was at the heart of the Smart Meter Energy Data Public Interest Advisory Group (PIAG).

PIAG explored how we could best realise the significant public interest benefits that smart meter data provides.

With research, analysis, stakeholder engagement, and a series of exploratory workshops with the PIAG membership, the Sustainability First and CSE project team developed an understanding of:

In Phase 1 (2017 – 2019) PIAG laid the foundations of the project by assessing the need for better demand-side data, the challenges of balancing public interest and privacy concerns, and the options for moving forward. These findings formed the basis of the deep-dive workshops on specific public interest use cases for smart meter data that were held in phase 2. In Phase 2 (2020 – 2021), PIAG looked in more detail at the precise additional value that smart meter data could unlock and likely main use-cases.

PIAG concluded its work, which was made up of two phases, with six major recommendations published in the May 2021 report and are summarised in the snapshot report.

More information

For more detail about the project including the stakeholders involved and the stimulus papers, research notes and other outputs from the project, please visit the project website at

The PIAG’s work programme was originally inspired and informed by two papers commissioned by CSE & Sustainability First in 2015 on household smart meter data and the public interest agenda from a national and a sub-national perspective (downloadable here) and an initial stakeholder roundtable in March 2016 exploring the issues raised by these papers and the controls which have been put in place to control availability and access to smart meter data to protect consumer privacy. The project worked closely with the EPSRC-funded Smart Meter Research Portal being led by UCL.

Members of PIAG included representatives of BEIS, UCL Smart Meter Research Portal*, Ofgem*, the Energy Systems Catapult*, the Data Communications Company*, National Grid*, Elexon*, Northern Power Grid*, Citizens Advice, the Committee on Climate Change, Energy Networks Association, Energy Saving Trust, Energy-UK, Greater London Authority, MHCLG (Ministry for Housing, Communities & Local Government),  the National Infrastructure Commission, Office for National Statistics, Scottish Government, Smart Energy GB, techUK, UKERC, TEDDINET / Edinburgh University, Universities of Exeter & Reading, CAR (Cambridge Architecture Research Ltd), Welsh Government, and Which?

* denotes funding partner

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