Consumer data right to be introduced in energy sector

28 May 2020

In November 2017 the Australian Government announced the creation of the consumer data right (CDR). We previously reported on the introduction of the CDR here. The banking sector was the ACCC’s first focus. Now, industry-specific CDR rules are being prepared for the energy sector.

Purpose of CDR implementation

The CDR gives consumers greater access to and control of their data, with a view to:

  • Enabling consumers to more easily compare products and services;
  • Allowing consumers to better manage their energy use;
  • Assisting consumers to identify the most appropriate energy deals for their needs;
  • Encouraging competition between providers; and
  • Increasing innovation in the industry.

Once introduced, the CDR will enable consumers to require that trusted parties (such as energy retailers and comparison sites) share data in order to provide a more tailored service. Consumers will need to consent before their data is shared.

The ACCC is the lead CDR regulator, and must collaborate with the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner and the Data Standards Body to ensure that consumer data is shared appropriately and in accordance with privacy laws.

Data access model

Determining the appropriate data access model was a threshold question for the ACCC. Three options were considered, and the ACCC accepted submissions from stakeholders as to the most appropriate model.

The three proposed models were:

  • The AEMO centralised model:¬†where AEMO would be the sole data holder of a centralised data set;
  • The AEMO gateway model:¬†where AEMO would act as a pipeline, facilitating the provision of data from data holders to data recipients; and
  • The economy-wide model: (used for the banking sector), where existing data holders would provide data directly to data recipients.

On 29 August 2019, the ACCC released a position paper identifying the gateway model as the its preferred option, primarily because it would leverage AEMO’s existing data, infrastructure and expertise.

Proposed rules

In early May, Treasury released an exposure draft of the Consumer Data Right (Energy Sector) Designation 2020, which adopts the gateway model and sets out the classes of information (data sets) and data holders to which the right applies. Further consultations are now taking place, and submissions are due by 31 May 2020. The designation instrument is to be finalised by 30 June 2020.

The exposure draft identifies data sets including:

  • Information about the consumer;
  • National Metering Identifier Standing Data Schedule information;
  • Metering data;
  • Distributed Energy Resource register information;
  • Certain information about retail arrangements not relating to an identifiable person; and
  • Certain information about retail arrangements relating to an identifiable person.

Held by the following data holders:

  • AEMO;
  • Energy retailers;
  • The AER; and
  • Victorian Energy Compare.

Information about the sale or supply of electricity that is materially enhanced by the data holder is excluded.

Data will only be provided to accredited data recipients, who are formally authorised to receive the data. Data pre-dating 1 July 2018 will not be subject to the CDR.

Implications

The extension of the CDR to the energy sector has numerous implications, including for:

  • Data holders, who will need to consider what information is subject to the CDR and in what form it will be disclosed;
  • Data holders and data recipients, who will be required to comply with a range of privacy safeguards; and
  • AEMO, who may be vulnerable to attack as the central pooling point for personal information.

It is worth noting that the CDR will not apply to Western Australia and the Northern Territory, which do not participate in the National Electricity Market.

Energy market participants wishing to make submissions on the exposure draft of the CDR rules who have not already done so will need to act promptly to meet the 31 May 2020 deadline.

If you have any queries on how the CDR scheme might affect the energy sector or your business, please feel free to contact a member of our Privacy, Data Protection & Cyber Security or Energy & Resources teams.

This article was written by Luke Dale, Partner and Kelly Williamson, Solicitor.

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