Key Points for New German Ordinances on Smart Meters

On 9 February 2015 the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) published key points for several ordinances on smart measurement systems for electricity.

1. Need for Regulation

In a electricity system that is (more and more) characterised by volatile decentralized generation, balancing supply and demand was a challenge BMWi says, pointing out that smart meters can help in two important ways

  1. by integrating renewable energy sources that are connected by smart meters to smart grids so that grid operators and persons selling renewable energy directly can manage the plants in a way that promotes the security of supply as well as efficient marketing;
  2. by visualising consumption for consumers.

Section 21c para. 1 German Energy Act (EnWG) lists in cases in which smart measurement systems in the sense of Section 21d and 21 e EnWG have to be installed. All three provisions stipulate that further details will be laid down in ordinances.

2. Key Points

Based on the key points BMWI wants to create a legal framework for the use of smart meters, paying special attention to data protection and security by using the standards (Schutzprofil) and technical guidelines (Technische Richtlinien) created by the Federal Office for Information Security (BSI).

In view of a cost-benefit analysis by BMWi smart meters shall only be mandatory if they reduce costs. Large consumers shall be the first to use smart meters. On the generation side BMWi does not want to change the threshold for installing smart measurement systems of a capacity of more than 7 kW for new renewable power plants and CHP plants set out in Section 21c para. 1 c) EnWG. On the consumption side, final customers with a consumption of less than 6,000 kWh per year shall not be obliged to install smart measurement systems in the sense of the EnWG. In the long-run they shall be offered inexpensive electronic meters that display consumption, BMWi says (please not that the key point paper distinguishes between smart measurement systems “iMSys” in the sense of the law and smart meters “iZ” that provide a kind of basic smart solution).

According to the key point paper even owners of new buildings and buildings that have undergone a major renovation in the sense of Directive 2010/31/EC on the Energy Performance of Buildings shall be not be obliged to install smart measurement systems as Section 21c para. 1 a) EnWG) currently provides. The key point paper proposes to amend the EnWG accordingly (cf. key point paper, page 5). The obligation to install smart meters in the sense of the EnWG shall be introduced in a staggered manner starting in 2017.

The key point paper proposes to regulate the costs of the installation to make sure that the individual costs do not exceed the benefits. The installation shall be financed by the charges for metering, not by a new surcharge. Cost limits shall ensure the efficiency of the roll-out. Grid operators shall be enabled to tender their obligation to offer smart measurement systems.

Three ordinances shall be presented

  • A Measurement System Ordinance, which contains the technical requirements, i.e. standards and technical guidelines for data protection and security and the interoperability;
  • A Data Communication Ordinance, which regulates who is entitled to obtain which data from whom, how often and for what purpose;
  • A Rollout Ordinance, which regulates who is obliged to install smart meters in the sense of the law and when he has to do so.

3. Next Steps

Based on the key points BMWi will prepare and present draft ordinances. According to BMWi the goal is to have the government review the ordinances before the summer break.

Last year Green Party member and energy expert Oliver Krischer criticised the government, pointing out that the coalition agreement of the Conservative/Social Democrat Coalition announced to present a reliable legal framework for smart meters for consumers, producers and small storages by 2014.

Source: Federal Ministry for the Economics Affairs and Energy

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