CEER - Status review of regulatory aspects of Smart Metering
Who in Europe is rolling out smart meters? Is it good for consumers?
EU legislation and Smart Metering
The 2009 “3rd Package” of energy laws establishes the introduction of intelligent metering systems with the aim firstly to promote energy efficiency and demand-side management measures; and secondly to assist active participation of customers in the market. EU Member States had until September 2012 to carry out a (non-mandatory) cost-benefit analysis (CBA) of the roll-out of electricity smart meters (there is no deadline set for gas).

Are there benefits for consumers?
A main advantage of smart meters for consumers is frequent consumption information. Smart metering (if rolled out properly in line with regulators' recommendations) coupled with smart regulation and services (such as time-of-use tariffs, shortened supplier switching processes, and energy savings advice and making sure customers are well informed about smart metering) has the potential to greatly empower consumers:
  • Consumers should receive bills based on accurate (instead of estimated) consumption on a frequent basis;
  • Consumers will be be able to take control of their energy consumption behaviour more easily than in the past; 
  • Faster switching processes will allow consumers to switch supplier more easily.
Regulators’ Smart Metering Recommendations
In 2011, the European Energy Regulators (then grouped in ERGEG, the predecessor of ACER) issued a set of 28 recommendations (“Final Guidelines of Good Practice on Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering for Electricity and Gas”).

They set out the basic services which should be rendered to customers in the deployment of smart meters so that smart meters actually assist in the active participation of customers. These GGP serve as guidance for Member States, regulators and industry.

CEER has just published a report (the CEER Status Review on the Regulatory Aspects of Smart Metering) examining the extent to which those recommendations have been applied. It also looks at the state of play of smart metering roll out in Europe.

Main findings of CEER’s monitoring exercise
  • Regulators’ 2011 recommendations are generally applied, in particular to conduct a CBA to determine whether or not to roll out.
  • As of January 2013, most countries were at different stages in terms of making the decision on a roll out. 
  • Smart meter roll out is planned in many EU countries. 
  • In terms of roll-out targets, a majority of countries have gone beyond the 80% minimum target set out in the 3rd Package and opted for a 95% to 100% roll-out.
  • Two countries have completed their electricity smart meter roll-out (Sweden 100% and Italy 95%). Finland is close in reaching its 80% target by the end of 2013; whilst 15 countries are rolling out or plan to roll out smart meters.
  • In the case of gas, only one country is rolling out (Italy) and 7 countries plan to roll out, all of them with a target of 95% or more.
  • The technical design varies from one country to another. Despite many years of assessing EU standards, Europe unfortunately still does not have a common standard for smart meters, and there is a lack of interoperability. Consumers (the demand side of the market) will be a core part of CEER’s work in 2014. 

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