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Stromnetz Berlin welcomes the recommendations of the dena Smart Meter Study


Cost of rolling out smart meters and metering systems in Berlin to be around €1 billion

Cost of rolling out smart meters and metering systems in Berlin to be around €1 billion


As operator of Germany's largest city distribution grid, Stromnetz Berlin GmbH welcomed the dena Smart Meter Study, published this week by the German Energy Agency (dena), as an important step towards expanding the use of smart electricity meters nationwide. In the study, dena examines the costs, advantages and regulatory frameworks of the Smart Meter rollout announced by the German government and gives recommendations on cost limitations.

Helmar Rendez, Chairman of the Management Board at Stromnetz Berlin GmbH, welcomes the fact that the study has put in motion the objectification of an important debate: "The nationwide rollout of smart meters and metering systems scheduled to take place over the coming years presents a significant challenge for all grid operators. We grid operators gladly accept this responsibility. In political debates, however, it is often suggested that the upcoming measures, which will make for an even more intelligent distribution grid, are actually Herculean tasks, both from a financial and technical perspective. An in-depth assessment of the plan's advantages and the associated costs are, therefore, an urgent priority!"

In a nutshell, dena's recommendations for the rollout involve allowing individual distribution system operators more design freedom and simply to specify target values for the rollout. "The fact that dena has pointed to grid operators' business competence as an essential success factor for a rollout gives a strong signal to the wider political debate," continues Rendez.

In contrast to the cost-benefit analysis recommendations, the introduction of so-called remote displays – monitors designed to display consumption statistics that are installed in a fixed spot in customers' homes – encounter criticism in the dena study. Instead, smart meter interfaces for visualising data should be placed on a device of the user's choice, e.g. smartphones. Stromnetz Berlin GmbH has long been an advocate of removing additional displays. The customer's wishes should always be heard, even when equipping new buildings or when renovation work is being carried out: The study recommends dropping the obligatory installation of a smart meter system for customers who use less than 6,000 kWh a year, as well as leaving the customer to choose between between a cheap smart meter or an expensive smart meter system. Only 7% of Berlin's grid customers consume more than 6,000 kilowatt hours in a year.

Based on dena's cost estimates, a comprehensive rollout across all 2.3 million power connections in Berlin would cost more than €1 billion. As things stand, it remains undecided as to what extent and how soon these costs could be refinanced using grid fees.

Stromnetz Berlin GmbH was one of ten other German distribution system operators that commissioned the dena Smart Meter Study.