A bill to prohibit the installation of “advanced meters” by electric utilities in Virginia was set aside by the Virginia Senate on January 28, 2013. The Committee on Commerce and Labor vote to “pass by indefinitely” SB 797, effectively killing a proposal to restrict electric utilities from deploying new meters they believe are necessary to manage demand and improve resiliency of the electric grid.

Often described as “smart meters” the advanced meters are capable of two way communication, collecting consumer energy usage data from a home more often, and sending signals to consumers on energy pricing to allow them to reduce consumption during peak periods. Smart meters are a critical means for utilities to manage demand during peak energy usage periods and thereby prevent black outs. More than a third of U.S. households now have smart meters: the Institute for Electric Efficiency of the Federal Regulatory Commission estimates 40 million smart meters were installed by the end of 2012. Opponents of smart meters fear their energy usage data will be profiled to track their behavior.

Principles for the use and protection of consumer energy usage data, by utilities or by third party data analytics and home energy management services, have been established in law by several states and are codified in industry guidelines and best practices in the emerging market for energy data. Applications for consumer energy usage data are growing and require rigorous privacy protection by utilities collecting the data, and third parties using the data.