The new Consumer Data Right extended to the energy sector

The new Consumer Data Right extended to the energy sector

AU Energy Compliance

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) recently released a Consultation paper on data access models for energy data.[1]

The Consumer Data Right (CDR) regime, provides individuals and business with a right to conveniently access specified data in relation to them that is held by businesses. It is intended to  improve consumers’ ability to compare and switch between products and services and thereby increase competition. It is currently being rolled out in the banking sector but has been scheduled to roll out in the telecommunications and energy sectors for a while now.

By Dr Drew Donnelly, Compliance Quarter

A key difference between roll-out in the banking and energy sectors is the diverse range of entities that hold relevant information in the latter sector, including retailers, distributors, embedded network operators and the market operator (AEMO). In some respects, this makes the choice of data access model in the energy sector more complex.

  1. Types of data

There is a range of data that is proposed to be subject to the CDR in the energy sector. This includes:

  • National Metering Identifier (NMI) Standing Data. This substantial dataset logged in the market operator’s MSATS system contains a range of identifying information and information relating specifically to the connection including NMI, network tariffs, transmission node identities, average daily load and the presence of controlled loads;
  • Customer Provided Data. This is any data submitted by the customer themselves;
  • Metering Data. This data, collected by Metering Data Providers (MDPs) records the actual energy use at the premises;
  • Billing Data. This data is held mainly by the retailer;
  • Product Data. This is general information relating to energy products/plans;
  • Distributed Energy Resources Register. This relates to equipment like solar energy resources or batteries that are connected to the grid.
  1. The three models

The dispersion of energy information across different entities means that there are several broad models being considered for implementation.

  • Model 1: the AEMO centralised model – AEMO would be the sole data holder of a centralised data set and would provide CDR data directly to accredited data recipients.

Figure 1: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/ACCC%20consultation%20paper%20-%20data%20access%20models%20for%20energy%20data.pdf., p26.

  • Model 2, the AEMO gateway model – AEMO would provide a gateway function to facilitate the transfer of data from data holders such as retailers, distributors and AEMO itself to accredited data recipients.

Figure 2: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/ACCC%20consultation%20paper%20-%20data%20access%20models%20for%20energy%20data.pdf, p29.

  • Model 3, the economy-wide CDR model – existing data holders (for example, retailers) would be responsible for providing CDR data directly to accredited data recipients.

Figure 3: https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/ACCC%20consultation%20paper%20-%20data%20access%20models%20for%20energy%20data.pdf, p31.

  1. Comment

There is a range of advantages and disadvantages to each model that are canvassed in the paper itself. Some important general points to note include:

  • The first or second options would require significant changes to the National Electricity Law, National Energy Retail Law, associated rules and regulations and jurisdictional legislation to alter the role of AEMO and its access to information;
  • It is an open question how and when customers sold energy in an embedded network by an exempt on-seller/authorised on-seller would get access to their data as their data is not held by AEMO or market participants. Current plans to further regulate embedded networks do not include a proposal for retailers/embedded network service providers to collect the same data on embedded network customers as traditional retail customers;
  • The CDR will not initially apply to gas data-sets but it is intended that the regime will extend in this direction in the future.

Submissions on the paper are due 22 March at https://www.accc.gov.au/focus-areas/consumer-data-right-cdr/energy-cdr/consultation-on-energy-data-access-models.

[1] See https://www.accc.gov.au/system/files/ACCC%20consultation%20paper%20-%20data%20access%20models%20for%20energy%20data.pdf.

A new Consumer Data Right for 2018: What we Know So Far

A new Consumer Data Right for 2018: What we Know So Far

Consumer, Uncategorized

On 26 November the Federal Government announced its intention to legislate a national Consumer Data Right next year, following the recommendations of the Productivity Commission (which you can view here).

In today’s article we look at what we currently know about this proposed data right and suggest how it relates to existing data rights and other changes proposed by the Government.

consumer data right
Photo by Pana Vasquez on Unsplash
By Dr Drew Donnelly, Compliance Quarter.

What we know so far

The Government will announce its formal response to the Productivity Commission’s Inquiry Report Data Availability and Use (PC Report) in a few weeks time, so this announcement is a ‘sneak peek’, with more detail to be released shortly. Nevertheless, there are a few things that we know from the Government’s comments to date:

  • This follows the recommendations of the Productivity Commission with respect to a proposed consumer right, so is likely to have similarities with that proposed right
  • It will be established sector-by-sector, beginning with the energy, telecommunications and banking sectors.
  • Utilities will be required to provide standard, comparable, easy-to-read digital information, that third parties can readily access.

The consumer data right as recommended by the Productivity Commission

The Productivity Commission recommended a Comprehensive Consumer Right which would enable consumers to:

  • share in perpetuity joint access to and use of their consumer data with the data holder
  • receive a copy of their consumer data
  • request edits or corrections to it for reasons of accuracy
  • be informed of the trade or other disclosure of consumer data to third parties
  • direct data holders to transfer data in machine-readable form, either to the individual or to a nominated third party (See PC Report, recommendation 5.1).

So, what is consumer data?

According to the Productivity Commission, consumer data is digital data, provided in a machine-readable format, that is:

  • held by a product or service provider
  • identified with a consumer
  • associated with a product or service provided to that consumer.

Participants in an industry would determine the scope of consumer data relevant to their industry through a ‘data-specification agreement’. These agreements would also set out transfer mechanisms and procedures for the security of data.

These agreements would require approval by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, which would then register them (See PC Report, recommendation 5.2).

Of course, at this stage, we do not know to what extent the Government’s proposed right would reflect the recommendations in the PC Report.

Don’t the Privacy Act and the GDPR already provide access to such information?

Both the Privacy Act 1988 and the General Data Protection Regulation (for businesses that have dealings with EU customers) provide a data access right. But this right relates to accessing personal information or data. Consumer data includes personal information or data, but it is a wider category. For example, it may include data created from consumers’ online transactions or internet activity or data purchased about a consumer, which cannot be used to identify a person, and therefore does not count as personal information or data. The precise scope of consumer data will depend on the industry in question and the content of the agreements that apply in that industry.

How does this relate to other Government reviews?

Recently, the Government separately announced its intention to introduce mandatory comprehensive credit reporting (http://sjm.ministers.treasury.gov.au/media-release/110-2017/). This will mean access to a richer credit data set for potential lenders. It is likely that that bank of credit information will constitute part of that individual’s consumer data that they have a right to access under the new consumer right

The Government also announced earlier this year the introduction of an ‘Open Banking Regime’ (for more information see https://compliancequarter.com.au/open-banking-regime-fintech/). The review looking at how a regime would be implemented is due to report back by the end of the year. The Open Banking Regime would seek to “increase access to banking product and consumer data by consumers and third parties, if the consumer consents”. Note the proposal that this regime would go beyond rights of consumer access to include third parties.

While we will have to wait until the Government’s formal response to the PC Report to find out the essential details of the regime, let us know if you need advice on how you might respond to the proposed consumer right into your 2018 compliance program.