Protecting customer information is a top priority for WG&E. We treat personal information and data about our customers as confidential, consistent with all legal and regulatory requirements, including those established by the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (DPU). Below is a series of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)describing how WG&E uses and protects the information we collect about our customers, including information collected using WG&E's Automated Meter Reading (AMR) system.
What information does WG&E collect?
We collect customer information based on our business relationship with you and your use of our utility services and other products we provide. Some examples include:
- Contact information that allows us to communicate with you, including your name, address, telephone number and email address
- Billing and credit information related to your financial relationship with us, including your payment data, credit history, and Social Security Number
- Electric and gas usage data gathered by our metering systems
- Repair and outages at a customer’s premises
- Communications, verbal and written, with representatives of WG&E
- Information gathered when you participate in utility programs such as those related to energy efficiency
How is the information collected?
We collect customer information in a variety of ways, including:
- When you set up your account and interact with us regarding your account, your utility service, and your participation in utility programs
- When you use electricity and natural gas service, usage data is collected via our metering systems (including the AMR™ system)
- When we interact with third parties such as credit agencies
- When you call WG&E customer service representatives or other representatives of WG&E
How is the information used?
We use personal information to administer your account and inform you about your energy usage, as well as to manage, provide, and improve our services and business operations. Some examples include:
- To review credit
- To generate your customer billing statement, and otherwise, in connection with billing and payment on your customer account
- In the near future enable you to see your energy usage data on a next-day basis via secure access on the Internet (available to residential and commercial customers)
- To communicate with you about your energy usage to help you select the best rate plan, or help you, if you choose, to take better advantage of certain pricing programs tht may be offered by WG&E such as our residential, commercial, or industrial conservation and energy efficiency programs.
- To communicate with you about specific programs or opportunities offered by WG&E that may help you to lower your energy usage or realize other benefits
- To communicate with you about energy saving tips and energy management tips We may also aggregate data about your electric and gas usage in various formats so that the data becomes anonymous and cannot be identified personally with you. For instance, aggregated data could be a summary of total energy usage for all homes and businesses in a certain geographic area or customer group.. Aggregated data is not subject to privacy restrictions and is used by us to manage, provide, and improve our services and business operations. Some examples include:
- To analyze rates and rate structures
- To project usage demand patterns and plot growth in different geographic or other areas
- To improve our energy supply planning and to better design and engineer our energy distribution systems
- To be more responsive to outage restoration situations
When we use your personally identifiable data, we may share it with contractors and vendors for purposes of providing you services and operating our utility system. However, in these cases, we require that the contractors or vendors agree to only use the information provided for utility operational purposes and to protect it under the same confidentiality and privacy standards as we apply to our own employees and operations.
How does WG&E protect customer information from unauthorized access?
How does WG&E protect customer data that is available on the Internet?
We protect your data that you may access through WG&E on the Internet using the latest password protection protocols and other security protections that prevent third parties from accessing your personal data in our billing system unless you affirmatively consent.
Is my customer information disclosed to others?
WG&E does not release personal customer information to any other person or business entity without your prior written consent.
There are, however, certain exceptions that have been authorized by the DPU or the Massachusetts Legislature. WG&E may release personal information without your prior written consent as follows:
- To law enforcement officers, pursuant to legal process (such as a warrant or subpoena approved by a judge)
- To contractors providing utility-related services on behalf of WG&E—but only to the extent necessary to render the service and subject to confidentiality and security obligations
- To the DPU (or other governmental agencies with jurisdiction over WG&E) when they require such information;
- To others as required by court order or by applicable laws, rules, or regulations governing WG&E
- To credit reporting agencies and collection agencies if your account is assigned for collection
- The information considered a “public record” by Massachusetts Law
As stated above, on occasion WG&E may share non-customer specific energy usage data with third parties where necessary or beneficial for utility business operations, such as academicians performing research that may help improve our Customer Energy Efficiency or Demand Response programs
We do not sell or provide personal customer information to third parties for their commercial benefit.
What information can customers access? Is the customer data that WG&E collects using AMR treated any differently than other customer data?
The information collected by the WG&E,as outlined, occurs regardless of meter reading medium
Residential customers with AMR will have secure access through the WG&E website to their own electricity and gas usage data. This data is collected and provided one day after actual usage and shows your hourly usage on a 24-hour basis. Non-residential (business) customers with AMR will have access to this data 24 hours a day on a 15-minute interval basis provided one day after actual usage. Customers with AMR may also have secure access to their pricing information. WG&E protects this customer data under the same current privacy protections and data exchange rules applicable to all customer specific data under federal and state laws and rules and orders of the DPU. In particular, except under the limited circumstances discussed above, WG&E does not release your AMR customer data to any other person or business entity without your affirmative consent.
How long does WG&E keep customer usage data?
WG&E maintains customer-specific energy usage and billing information for seven years in accordance with DPU rules and standards.
Can I give my own data to a third party?
Yes, customers may authorize any third party to have access to their WG&E provided data.
Should I be concerned about giving my data to a third party? What are the risks if I do so?
WG&E believes that there are many valuable and safe ways to share data with third parties. However, there are risks as well, as this information potentially contains personal data. Once provided to a third party, customers may have little control of its further use. For more information on consumer privacy best practices, please visit the Federal Trade Commission's website.