Transparent Electricity Pricing with Privacy

04/16/2021
by   Daniel Reijsbergen, et al.
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Smart grids leverage data from smart meters to improve operations management and to achieve cost reductions. The fine-grained meter data also enable pricing schemes that simultaneously benefit electricity retailers and users. Our goal is to design a practical dynamic pricing protocol for smart grids in which the rate charged by a retailer depends on the total demand among its users. Realizing this goal is challenging because neither the retailer nor the users are trusted. The first challenge is to design a pricing scheme that incentivizes consumption behavior that leads to lower costs for both the users and the retailer. The second challenge is to prevent the retailer from tampering with the data, for example, by claiming that the total consumption is much higher than its real value. The third challenge is data privacy, that is, how to hide the meter data from adversarial users. To address these challenges, we propose a scheme in which peak rates are charged if either the total or the individual consumptions exceed some thresholds. We formally define a privacy-preserving transparent pricing scheme (PPTP) that allows honest users to detect tampering at the retailer while ensuring data privacy. We present two instantiations of PPTP, and prove their security. Both protocols use secure commitments and zero-knowledge proofs. We implement and evaluate the protocols on server and edge hardware, demonstrating that PPTP has practical performance at scale.

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