Sunday, April 18, 2010

Post # 10 - Meanwhile, in Europe. . . .

In a recently posted Smart Grid “Roadmap,” the European Commission – the executive body of the European Union – states that it will consider establishing new smart grid initiatives after first reviewing the findings of a “Smart Grids Task Force.”

EU “Roadmaps” give a first description of a planned Commission initiative and set out the planned impact assessment work, see here. The new Smart Grids “Roadmap,” entitled “Legislative proposal for a regulatory framework on Smart Grids,” can be found on the Commission’s official web page.

The EU’s Smart Grids Task Force, organized last November, is charged with (1) analyzing smart grid functionality and the need for standards; (2) developing proposed regulation on data safety; and (3) preparing the framework for developing intelligent grids. The Task Force’s initial findings are due by June 2010. Pending the conclusions and recommendations, the Impact Assessment for this initiative is scheduled for no later than September 2010, with completion by June 2011.

The Smart Grids “Roadmap” contains four Commission options. First, after reviewing the Task Force’s report, the EU Executive could do nothing. In other words, the EU Executive could leave the specifics of Smart Grid development to the EU’s member states.

Second, the EU executive could issue a communication on the “roles of the actors involved in smart grids deployment” and table recommendations for them. This would also include a monitoring mechanism on deployment at both the national and European level.

The third and fourth options would see smart grids regulated directly under the framework of the EU’s “Third Energy Liberalisation Package.” The Liberalisation Package, published in 2007 and adopted by the EU’s Council of Ministers in 2009, contains proposals for the reform of EU electricity and gas regulatory frameworks. Under the Liberalisation Package’s framework, after reviewing the Task Force report, the Commission could either establish a set of guidelines and specific recommendations for member states on the implementation of smart grids (third option); or develop a new annex for the directives in the package to lay down a European legislative framework and timetable for the deployment of smart grids (fourth option).

The Liberalisation Package itself sets forth a goal that at least 80% of EU consumers should be equipped with intelligent metering systems by 2020. In the meantime, a new research report by Berg Insight says that 96.3 million European households will have smart meters by 2014. That number — and the rate of growth it represents — indicates that the EU-wide target of 80% smart meter penetration by 2020 is well within reach. This also suggests, at least at this point, greater consumer acceptance than in the United States.

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