1. December 2021 By Stephen Lorenzen, Lars Zimmermann and Georg Benhöfer
The new energy service provider role – an opportunity for more competition in metering?
In addition to many other changes, the implementation of MaKo 2022 (Market Communication 2022) has also resulted in the introduction of a new market role: from 1 April 2022, the energy service provider (Energieserviceanbieter, ESA) will expand the range of roles in market communication. This new role has the potential to stimulate competition in metering and thus have a decisive influence on the entire energy sector.
But what actually is an energy service provider?
The energy service provider was introduced as a result of the Decision of Ruling Chamber 6 of the Bundesnetzagentur/BNetzA (Federal Network Agency for Electricity, Gas, Telecommunications, Post and Railway) from 21 December 2020. This decision regulates all adjustments to the process landscape that will apply to all market participants in the energy sector from 1 April 2022. The energy service provider takes on a service role here. Subject to the permission of the connection user, they can receive energy consumption data in order to identify potential for optimisation and suggest ways in which the connection user can adjust their consumption behaviour.
How does the energy service provider appear on the market and what are the prerequisites?
The most important requirement when using the services of the energy service provider is an intelligent metering system (iMSys). As part of the currently valid electronic market communication, an interim model of the metering point operator transmits requested measured values of the connection user to the energy service provider. In the future – that is, as soon as the star-shaped market communication is fully implemented – the energy service provider will be able to obtain the measured values directly via the Smart Meter Gateway (SMGW). Due to the fact that the installation of an iMSys is currently only mandatory for consumers with an annual consumption of more than 6,000 kWh per year, the target group of the energy service provider is still limited. In light of this, the energy service provider’s initial customer groups will consist of exclusively commercial and industrial customers. There are likely to be potential services in the field of energy efficiency, especially for customers that do not have their own energy management. It remains to be seen for the time being how the new services offered by the energy service provider might affect private households. In principle, however, it is important to point out that all target groups must be willing to pay for any new service, as this is not part of the metering point operator’s price cap.
What is the process between connection user, energy service provider and metering point operator?
What are the obligations of the energy service provider and the metering point operator and what are the effects on the market environment?
The energy service provider is obliged to comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Accordingly, the energy service provider is not permitted to pass on consumption data to third parties without having obtained the prior consent of the connection user. Furthermore, they are only permitted to process the data of the connection user as part of analyses and evaluations.
The metering point operator, which must communicate with the energy service provider from 1 April 2022, will incur higher costs due to the introduction of the new role. However, these expenses will be offset by the new revenue to be generated from the provision of the data. Thus, we can assume that a new field of business will open up for the measuring point operators.
The introduction of the energy service provider and the resulting new processes for the metering point operators will lead to a major change in the IT landscape of the metering point operators. In addition to the introduction of new processes, existing data exchange, energy data management and billing processes will also need to be adapted. Further adjustments will also need to be made as part of automating the processes related to the rollout of iMSys at the metering point operators.
The introduction of the energy service provider helps to further implement the path of liberalisation in the German energy market. New services and business areas are opened up and competition is stimulated. It remains to be seen whether and to what extent customer groups will want to use the offers of the newly created market role or, when it comes to iMSys, will be able to use them.
To conclude, it is important to note that the introduction of a market role that offers energy efficiency optimisation as a service is a further building block for achieving the political goal of high energy efficiency.