The organization tasked with helping people and businesses be more energy efficient wants the province's utility and review board to order Nova Scotia Power to turn over customer information so it can do its job better.

EfficiencyOne, which operates the Efficiency Nova Scotia franchise, has made an application to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board asking it to compel the power corporation to turn over information, including customer names, email addresses and usage data on a monthly basis.

In its filing to the board, lawyers for EfficiencyOne say the information was requested last year, but Nova Scotia Power officials said they would only turn it over following an order from the board.

NS Power Audit 20120712

EfficiencyOne says its request for customer data would help reduce the demands placed on specific pieces of power-generating infrastructure. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

The application argues Nova Scotia Power has a legislated responsibility to provide the information as per the Public Utilities Act, which says the utility "shall" provide information it has, "including records and personal information, respecting customer electricity usage and load as is necessary to enable the franchise holder to provide Nova Scotia Power Incorporated with reasonably available cost-effective energy efficiency and conservation activities."

The application makes the case that as energy efficiency initiatives and programs become more common and more people use them, EfficiencyOne must engage in targeted marketing to help find further efficiencies and create new programs.

In order to do so, the application says, the franchise needs specific customer contact information and usage data so it can tailor new approaches to certain customers' specific needs.

Targeted marketing more effective

EfficiencyOne says uptake of programs is greater when correspondence is addressed to named customers as opposed to unnamed homeowners.

This targeted marketing will also help reduce peak demand for customers "who are connected to infrastructure that is nearing capacity, thereby reducing the need to upgrade that infrastructure," according to the application.

Lawyers argue the request is consistent with Nova Scotia Power's privacy policy, which notes: "We do not sell or rent our clients' personal information. We do, however, disclose all or part of it to certain third parties who process data on our behalf, or require access to the information in order to provide other services to us."

Privacy concerns addressed

In reference to privacy concerns, the application notes EfficiencyOne has been subject to third-party audits, which have endorsed the organization's data security systems.

EfficiencyOne says it will also maintain a no-contact list for any customer who requests not to receive direct marketing.

A Nova Scotia Power spokesperson said in an email that the utility takes its responsibility to protect customer information "very seriously," and would provide a formal response to the board, as per the process.

With files from Paul Withers