Once again, change is in the air. The competition has finally arrived—this time in the shape of metering point operations. German utilities are now faced with the decision as to whether—and how—they want to position themselves on the market as 3rd party metering point operator (German abbreviation: wMSB) and to offer added value for end customers.
First and foremost, a metering point operator must fulfill standard services—an obligatory task in the rollout of smart metering systems. So why should customers change providers? Especially since customers’ fundamental willingness to change providers is limited. For example, the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) issued a monitoring report in 2017 which shows that in 2016, 71.5 percent of customers were still with their original energy provider. 30.5 percent of electricity customers were even still in their original electricity plans. This means that not even 30 percent of customers have changed suppliers in the 20 years since liberalization was introduced.
Metering point operation paves the way for value-added services
3rd party metering operation is a market role that has been introduced by the German Metering Point Act in 2016. It is part of the added value of the customer-centered energy service of the future. Thus, on its own, it does not represent a product or sustainable business model. But metering point operation is a door opener to the customer, and enables further development of one’s own business model. In order to identify value-added services, it is necessary to take a closer look at the data communication paths, as well as the possible value that is added, and also to become aware of the target groups.
Long-term success with innovative energy services
Data communication undergoes a decisive change as a result of smart metering systems. The previously linear chain of communication via the distribution system operator to the authorized market participants is broken down and gives way to a star-shaped data communication system directly from the gateway to all authorized entities. At least, that’s what’s planned. Like a spider in its network of webs, the metering point operator, responsible also for administrating the smart meter gateway, keeps all the strings in their own hand. At the other end of the respective thread, however, are not end users, but the providers of energy or energy-related services. This is the new target group that the metering point operator gains as a customer by providing infrastructure and value-added services.
Sovereignty over the metering point is a strategic competitive advantage
Metering point operators have an enormous competitive advantage, being positioned at the strategically important data hub of the energy industry. Because no smart metering-based value-added service can be realized without the central service of the metering point operator. This is the ideal basis for developing and marketing value-added services yourself, and with partners. Metering point operators are thus changing from analog device administrators to IT, communication, and value-added service providers.