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New Ponemon Study Points to Need for Smart Grid Education

New Ponemon Study Points to Need for Smart Grid Education

Consumer Privacy Fears Based Largely on Lack of Understanding

Traverse City, Mich. December 14, 2010 – Technologically advanced electrical meters – devices that monitor power usage information from the consumer and transmit that information back to the utility company – are being introduced in many areas around the country, raising concerns relative to the level of detail and conclusions that can be drawn from the data they collect. According to a new study by the Ponemon Institute, consumers are not adequately informed about the capabilities of the new smart meters, and that lack of awareness is a factor in fears over privacy encroachment.

Consumer Privacy Fears Based Largely on Lack of Understanding

Traverse City, Mich. December 14, 2010 – Technologically advanced electrical meters – devices that monitor power usage information from the consumer and transmit that information back to the utility company – are being introduced in many areas around the country, raising concerns relative to the level of detail and conclusions that can be drawn from the data they collect. According to a new study by the Ponemon Institute, consumers are not adequately informed about the capabilities of the new smart meters, and that lack of awareness is a factor in fears over privacy encroachment.
 
The report, Perceptions about Privacy on the Smart Grid, was derived from a survey of 509 U.S.-based adults. Among the findings:
 
·         Forty-two percent of 1218 individuals who began the survey were able to complete it, suggesting that 58 percent lacked sufficient knowledge about the smart grid;
·         Fifteen percent of consumers surveyed said they had received and absorbed information about the installation of smart meters and capabilities of the smart grid; and,
·         Fifty-four percent of consumers surveyed did not receive information about or know they had a smart meter until after installation.
 
“There is a great deal of worry in the marketplace based on misperceptions and a lack of accurate information about the smart grid, and that feeds fears associated with privacy abuse,” said Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder, Ponemon Institute. “It appears utility companies are doing a poor job communicating with their customers about the capabilities, benefits, and even the impending installation of smart meters, and as a result they are missing out on an important opportunity to educate the consumer about the smart grid.”
 
Among the leading privacy concerns cited by consumers were misuse of personal information by the government (53%) and a failure to provide adequate protection for personal information (51%). Respondents seem to be most worried about how the smart grid’s collection of personal information will threaten their personal safety and reveal personal details about their lifestyle.
 
To obtain a copy of Perceptions about Privacy on the Smart Grid or for more information, contact:
 
research@ponemon.org
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