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The Financial Times recently reported on Britain’s dilemma of accurately predicting electricity supply and demand due to the invisibility of small generating facilities. Since 2014, ElectraLink has been developing a distributed generation dataset that can create visibility, based on electricity settlement data transported by the Data Transfer Service (DTS). However, this activity falls under the governance of the DTS Agreement (DTSA), an energy industry multi-party agreement overseen by the DTS User Group.

ElectraLink has proactively engaged with National Grid to explore how the System Operator could use this aggregated dataset to improve its forecasting.  The data is based on individual generation sites, or Meter Point Administration Number (MPAN) level, and is considered confidential by the DTSA so therefore ElectraLink developed a solution for National Grid which provides distributed generation output aggregated at GSP level.  National Grid is not a user of the DTS so permission was first secured from the DTS User Group and then a data extract of aggregated data was provided to National Grid in November 2016.

ElectraLink have recently been supporting National Grid’s application for a second dataset that shows the MPAN level data they require for accurate prediction of supply and demand. Since August 2017, ElectraLink have been working with all partners: Ofgem, DTS User Group and National Grid, to prepare the appropriate documentation for impact assessment by the users of the DTS. This is essential to ensure that the use of DTS derived data is compliant with GDPR. ElectraLink initiated a DTSA change to allow the provision of MPAN level data in December of that year.  Any change to the DTSA involves a formal consultation process with all 250 users of the DTS.  Armed with the feedback from the consultation the DTS User Group meets to vote on the proposed change.

The distributed generation dataset is derived from half hourly export data from individual meters designated by MPAN.  Data at this level of granularity can be used to identify an individual property, business and potentially customer and therefore falls into the classification of personal data under GDPR.   The legislation does allow for the provision and use of such data for legitimate purposes.  However, the DTSA currently prohibits the provision of MPAN level data and requires a formal change to allow such data to be used for the legitimate purpose requested by National Grid.

ElectraLink performs a vital role as the data hub at the centre of the retail energy market in the UK.  Since 2012 we have pioneered the use of market data to facilitate competition and improve the efficiency of the energy market.  We believe market data transparency is good for consumers and the energy industry however, there are good reasons why the National Grid request for MPAN level data should go through a governance process overseen by the representatives of the DTS users that generate the data.