Australian consumer energy data to be open in early 2020

The ACCC is currently unsure, however, as to what energy-related information will be available under Australia's new data-sharing directive.

Australia's major banks will be forced to make banking data available from July 1, and the energy sector will soon be facing the same legislative direction.

The mandate comes by way of a new Consumer Data Right (CDR) which will allow individuals to "own" their data by granting them open access to their banking, energy, phone, and internet transactions, as well as the right to control who can have it and who can use it.

Releasing a consultation paper [PDF] on data access models for energy data, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is seeking comments on the proposed models for consumers to access their data in the sector.

"In energy, one relevant consideration is that energy data on an individual consumer may be held by a number of organisations and it may not be possible for a single entity to provide sufficient data alone," the paper says.

"It may therefore be appropriate to impose obligations under the CDR on more than one entity and unlike in the banking sector, the market operator also holds some customer data."

The ACCC wants the first batch of energy data to be open during the first half of 2020. The initial data sets for the CDR in energy have not yet been determined, but the ACCC said it will likely be priority data sets in the National Electricity Market (NEM) -- a function operated by the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO).

The AEMO holds certain data, including data about each connection point in the market. AEMO also operates an e-hub for transactions between market participants and systems for participants to share information within the market, the ACCC said.

The paper sets out three options for the CDR access model, where energy is concerned. It focuses on a data access model for accredited data recipients, not on CDR arrangements for direct consumer access to their data.

According to the ACCC, this is because there are existing arrangements in the energy sector that enable consumers to have direct access to data

One option is to have the AEMO be the sole data-holder of a centralised data set, resulting in it being responsible for providing CDR data directly to accredited data recipients. An alternative to this, the ACCC said, would be for the AEMO to provide a gateway function, acting as a pipeline for the provision of CDR data from data holders -- which it said may include retailers and potentially also distributors -- to accredited data recipients.

The third model, labelled the economy-wide CDR model, would see existing data holders, such as retailers, be responsible for providing CDR data directly to accredited data recipients and/or consumers. This is the model used for the banking sector.

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From July 1, 2019, product reference -- generic -- data must be made publicly available by "initial data holders" and all other CDR data must be made shareable by no later than February 1, 2020.

The watchdog has classed the big four banks as initial data holders.

Where energy is concerned, types of data that may be subject to the initial CDR, the ACCC has said, include NMI Standing data --connection point information; customer provided data, such as name of account holder and contact details including addresses; and metering data, which is data collected by metering data providers.

Further data may include billing data, including historical billing information for each connection point; generic product data, such as retail tariffs, usage charges, and applicable discounts for the supply of electricity to consumers; and "individually tailored" product data, such as retail tariffs, usage charges, and discounts.

Submissions to the paper close March 22, 2019.

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