Regulation

The Consumer Data Right for Energy

The Consumer Data Right (‘CDR’), is a right of individuals to access and transfer their own data held by an organisation or business. The CDR is being gradually applied to different industries over time.

First stop was the banking sector (where the right is being slowly implemented), and now it is the turn of the energy and telecommunications sectors.

In this article we set out the basic elements of the CDR as it is proposed to apply in the energy sector. Note that as of May 2020,  the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) and the Treasury have yet to finalise all elements of the CDR for the energy sector, so aspects of the CDR could change before implementation. We explain:

  • What the model for the energy CDR is;
  • How it can benefit consumers
  • Which kinds of energy will be covered;
  • Which electricity datasets will be included in the CDR data package;
  • Next steps for the energy CDR.

What is the model for the energy CDR?

There are many different people and organizations that hold data in relation to consumer energy use. The energy retailer who sells the energy holds data, but so too do the distributors who carry electricity on their lines and those who install, maintain and read meters. Governmental bodies such as the Australian Energy Market Operator (‘AEMO’) may also hold such data.

Under the proposed model for the energy sector, AEMO will be a ‘gateway’ for the new data right. It will be empowered to gather the data from those who hold the data (‘data holders’), and transfer it to trusted third parties (‘accredited data recipients’ or ‘ADRs’), with the consent of the consumer.

How does the CDR benefit consumers?

It gives consumers enhanced autonomy and power over their own data. But more significantly, it can help consumers get access to more competitive energy offers. One barrier to competition in the energy sector (and indeed across the Australian economy), is the difficulty in new entrant and smaller businesses, often with innovating offerings, in pricing competitive offers. With the information contained in the CDR data package, these businesses will be better able to make such offers.

Which kinds of energy will be covered?

At the moment, it is only proposed that the CDR apply to electricity data. In addition, it only applies to data relating to electricity connections to the ‘National Electricity Market’. This means it does not apply to:

  • Electricity customers in Western Australia or the Northern Territory (they have entirely separate electricity grid systems);
  • Electricity customers in ‘embedded networks’. These are private electricity networks, common in many (but not all) apartment buildings, shopping malls, caravan parks and retirement villages;
  • Standalone power systems or ‘micro-grids’. These are electricity networks completely disconnected from a grid system and are often located in remote areas;
  • Gas customers.

We can expect that the CDR will be extended to many of these areas over time.

Which electricity data is included?

The types of data that are proposed to be included are:

  • ‘Standing Data’. This is information relating to a particular connection point including the type of meter, its location and the network tariffs that apply. It is held in AEMO’s ‘MSATS’ system;
  • Customer provided data. This is data supplied by the customer such as their name and contact details. This information is often held by energy retailers;
  • Billing data. This is information relating to the customer’s electricity account, such as what they have been billed, what they have been paying and any payment plans in place. This is also generally held by energy retailers;
  • Generic tariff data. This is tariff data which does not identify the person such as their eligibility for a hardship program, concessions, or rebates;
  • Tailored tariff data. This is information as above, but directly identifiable with a particular person;
  • Distributed Energy Resource data. This is data relating to solar PV panels, batteries, small wind generators, petrol generators or any other privately owned resource that can feed-in to the grid. This is held by AEMO;
  • Metering Data. This is the crucial data about electricity usage which is read from meters. This is also held by AEMO.

What next?

Originally it was intended that the CDR would come into effect in the energy sector in the first half of 2020, but this has been pushed back and there are currently no definite timelines. As the CDR is still being implemented in the banking sector, it is likely that it will not be introduced into the energy sector until well into 2021.

To read more go to https://treasury.gov.au/consumer-data-right/energy-sector-consumer-data-right.

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