We take seriously our responsibility to protect company information and the information we collect in the course of our business, including personal information about our customers, employees, contractors, shareholders and other individuals, and the confidential information of companies that do business with us. Our corporate policies around data privacy, confidentiality and security are designed to maintain the trust of the individuals and organizations who give us information. To underscore this commitment, we created an Information Governance department within our Corporate Compliance and Business Conduct office. The department is led by a director whose governance leadership responsibilities include ongoing accountability for data privacy, confidentiality and security.
In addition to managing our own information governance strategy and practices, we continue to be active and take a lead role in the national discussion around data privacy, confidentiality and security. We regularly speak on these issues in a number of forums, including the first public meeting of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) initiative to develop a voluntary code of conduct for customer energy usage data (CEUD). Our involvement in the DOE’s initiative will continue in 2013, as we are leading a Data Access and Participation workgroup comprised of diverse stakeholders that will advise the DOE on related issues.
In 2012, we continued to be an active participant in state regulatory commission proceedings involving customer privacy in Colorado, Michigan and Minnesota. We also filed a voluntary privacy tariff with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission proposing self-imposed data protection rules and specifically addressing customer consent requirements for third-party access to CEUD. The MPUC has not yet decided the merits of our proposed tariff.
Some of our customers have expressed concerns about privacy and health risks that they fear may be associated with the use of smart meters or the smart grid. We believe that it is important to provide our customers with information about their energy usage and the metering technology deployed in our service territory. For this reason, we have information on our website to help address these types of questions. Our customer communications have been recognized as leading examples of transparency and customer education for CEUD by noted privacy experts (see paper).
We continue to bolster our data privacy, confidentiality and security awareness efforts in several ways, including:
We published our first corporate responsibility report (formerly known as the Triple Bottom Line report) in April 2005, with the contents covering the 2004 calendar year, and we have published a similar report in each following year. Our report is based on Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G3 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, the most widely used sustainability reporting framework in the world. Additionally, we incorporate the GRI’s Electric Utilities Sector Supplement indicators wherever possible.