Future energy bills will rely on machine readable formats that is presented in a form that is clear and easy to understand.
According to the consultation on proposals to amend domestic energy supply licence conditions, which require provision of key energy data in a machine readable format, future energy bills and statements will require suppliers to place key customer energy data in a machine readable format on energy bills, such as in a QR code.
According to the consultation, these modifications are proposed to exercise powers the Government has taken under the Energy Act 2013 that allows Government to require that statements are presented in a form that is clear and easy to understand.
Point 13 of the consultation welcomed efforts by the six largest energy suppliers and one smaller supplier in providing their domestic consumers with secure access to their consumption and tariff data electronically. “Customers can either download the data from their online accounts or view it, with analysis of what it means, on their computer or smart phone,” it said.
Privacy consultant Martin Hoskins told IT Security Guru that smart metering was being rolled out in the UK and Ireland and work was being done on ensuring citizens understood how their information was going to be used. Hoskins said that the Government should be congratulated for promoting ever more innovative ways to encourage consumers to compare energy tariffs.
He said: “The proposal to place key data in a machine readable format on an energy bill ought not to worry the suppliers who care about giving their consumers the best deal, and the implementation costs for each company appear to be less than the salary package of a senior company executive.
“Of course there is no evidence that this initiative will definitely lead to more customers getting a better deal, but as the implementation costs are so low, there seems no reason why this ‘competition nudge’ should not be encouraged.”
Regarding smart metering, Hoskins said that the next stage was developing a data governance structure to properly manage a database containing meter readings that could be taken thousands of times a year, rather than just once every few months, and how best to respect national data protection laws..
Hoskins said: “In Ireland, consumers are currently experiencing the introduction of water meters, and their reaction to this programme may affect the way they will welcome smart electricity and gas meters in their homes.”