A series of privacy protection rules governing customer energy usage data produced by \u201csmart\u201d meters are included in the California Public Utilities Commission draft decision calling for utility real time pricing demonstration projects. The proposed rules cover Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric, plus any third-party contractors that deal with the utilities. The proposal also covers any third party that gains access--after customer authorization--to meter data through an on premises device, such as a home area network. The commission envisions, for example, that customers might use third-party service providers independent from utilities to help them manage their energy usage and costs with data from smart meters. Google, for instance, offers energy management information service. Under the rules, information would have to be kept confidential by utilities and their third-party contractors, as it would by any third-party company that enters into a direct service agreement with a customer for energy management service. The rules also establish utility customers\u2019 right to information from the meters. They call for the utilities to make easily available to customers data showing usage, pricing, and costs. Detailed information would have to be provided, including data on bill-to-date, bill forecast, projected month-end tiered rate, and a rate calculator. In addition, utilities would have to notify customers as their usage moves into higher rate tiers. CPUC action on the rules is slated for later this month.