Brussels, Belgium — (METERING.COM) — September 4, 2009 – Europe’s 3rd Energy Package, aimed at completing the liberalization and integration of the EU energy market, as well as strengthening consumer rights and protection, came into force yesterday, with smart metering provisions.
The package comprises two directives establishing common rules respectively for the electricity and gas markets, and three regulations covering the establishment of a cooperative agency for energy regulators, network access for cross-border exchanges of electricity, and access to the natural gas transmission networks.
Under the electricity directive member states are required to undertake an economic assessment of the costs and benefits of smart electricity metering by September 2012. Thereafter a timetable must be prepared for the rollout of the smart metering over a period of up to 10 years, with at least 80 percent of consumers equipped with a smart meter by 2020.
Similarly an economic assessment of smart gas metering is required to be undertaken by member states by September 2012 and a timetable for rollout prepared, although no rollout deadline is specified.
The inclusion of mandatory smart metering rollout across Europe has been welcomed by the European Smart Metering Industry Group (ESMIG) in a statement, and the Group foresees an increasing momentum for smart metering in the region as a result.
However, while the 3rd Energy Package is a good start, it is only a start, said Andreas Umbach, president of ESMIG.
“If we are going to get anywhere close to realizing the smart grid in the foreseeable future, let alone to achieve the EU’s 20-20-20 goals [20% increase in energy efficiency, 20% reduction of CO2 emissions, and 20% increase in renewables by 2020], we must start building the foundation right now. The smart metering industry is doing its part, but now it is up to the member states to anticipate the timeline laid out in the Package and ensure that their citizens can enjoy the benefits of smart metering as soon as possible.”
Other consumer protection measures in the directives include clear contracts from service providers, transparent information on tariffs, a wide choice of payment methods, no charges for switching provider, simple complaints procedures, and supply of actual consumption information and costs frequently enough to enable consumers to regulate their consumption.
The 3rd Energy Package must now be transposed into law by member states within 18 months, i.e. by March 3, 2011.