Among the report’s findings:
- There is considerable consensus that consumer education and flexibility regarding smart grid technologies, as well as the pace of deployment of such technologies, will be critical to their long-term success.
- Many smart grid technologies generate granular or detailed consumer-specific energy-usage data (CEUD) that could reveal personal details about the lives of consumers, "such as their daily schedules (including times when they are at or away from home or asleep), whether their homes are equipped with alarm systems, whether they own expensive electronic equipment such as plasma TVs, and whether they use certain types of medical equipment." Because data of this nature is both valuable and sensitive, adequate privacy protections are necessary.
- Utilities should continue to have access to CEUD and be able to use CEUD for utility-related business purposes.
- There is “almost universal consensus” that consumers should be able to access their CEUD. Moreover, consumers should be able to decide whether and for what purposes, other than the provision of electrical power, any third-party should be authorized to access their CEUD.
- Although the report focused on residential consumer data security and privacy, many commentators agree that the energy-usage data of commercial or organizational consumers of utilities should be treated as CEUD and commercial or organizational consumers should be able to protect the privacy of their energy-usage data.
- The deployment of smart grid technologies should be flexible and take into consideration the special circumstances of rural, low-income, minority and elderly electric utility consumers.
- States should focus on whether, or how, they should regulate the process through which consumer can authorize third-party access to their CEUD.
- A central "clearinghouse" for available information about practices and information relating to the regulation of the privacy and data protection aspects of the Smart Grid technologies should be created.
DOE's privacy report was release in conjunction with a second report, “Communications Requirements of Smart Grid Technologies,” also issued in response to the NBP. The second report report examines how the communications needs of utilities and the electrical grid are likely to evolve as smart grid technologies become more widely used. This report recommends that to improve overall coordination, utilities and other smart grid constituents should be represented on key federal industry committees that address communications- and network-related security and reliability issues.