Private Memoirs of a Smart Meter

Proposed infrastructure to provide a privacy preserving billing with incentives.


Smart meters that track fine-grained electricity usage and implement sophisticated usage-based billing policies, e.g., based on time-of-use, are a key component of recent smart grid initiatives that aim to increase the electric grid's efficiency. A key impediment to widespread smart meter deployment is that fine-grained usage data indirectly reveals detailed information about consumer behavior, such as when occupants are home, when they have guests or their eating and sleeping patterns. Recent research proposes cryptographic solutions that enable sophisticated billing policies without leaking information. However, prior research does not measure the performance constraints of real-world smart meters, which use cheap ultra-low-power microcontrollers to lower deployment costs. In our work, we explore the feasibility of designing privacy-preserving smart meters using low-cost microcontrollers and provide a general methodology for estimating design costs. We show that it is feasible to produce certified meter readings for use in billing protocols relying on Zero-Knowledge Proofs with microcontrollers such as those inside currently deployed smart meters.



Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in these materials are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsors.

  • NSF: grants CNS-0845874, CNS-0831244, CNS-0855128 and a Sloan Research Fellowship.