Clear regulatory approach and technical framework needed for smart meter success


Quebec City, Canada — (METERING.COM) — May 23, 2012 – A clear early stage decision on the organization to lead smart metering policy and a clear technical framework seem to be among the factors contributing to successful smart metering implementation, according to a new study from the International Confederation of Energy Regulators (ICER).

Pilot exercises to demonstrate the technology, as well as to develop the appropriate commercial and regulatory arrangements, also appear to be very useful, although the need for such pilots may be reduced given that experience from pilots and full implementation is growing rapidly.

The study, Experiences on the Regulatory Approaches to the Implementation of Smart Meters, comprises case studies of six markets – Ontario (Canada), France, Britain, Italy, Sweden and Colorado in the US.

All of these have mature gas or electricity markets with marked similarities. However, there are also marked differences in the level of established competition, market structure and market size. As a result the approaches adopted to tackle identified challenges relating to the implementation of smart meters are specific to the circumstances of each market.

The report says that several common central challenges can be identified from the case studies. These include the design of the regulatory framework for smart metering, the rolling out of smart meters, the organization of the decision making process itself, and the protection of consumer interests from potential negative consequences of smart meter implementation.

Within the spectrum of the compiled case studies it is also recognized that the policy impetus and implementation considerations relative to electricity and gas smart meters are, in the majority of cases, different. This has often resulted in either separate and distinct plans for the rollout of the two infrastructures within a jurisdiction or the decision to only implement electricity smart meters at this time.

Other findings from the case studies are that the full implementation of smart metering needs careful preparation and implementation, potentially taking some years to complete. Further, an impact assessment, including a cost-benefit analysis, is a useful tool to develop sound policy proposals.

The level and depth of engagement of consumers in the policy making process should also be established early on, and the measures required to protect consumers from the potentially negative impact of smart meter implementation should be carefully considered.

Consideration should also be given to the ability of the proposed smart meter model to accommodate future developments in technology and the market, such as smart grids.