22nd European Regional Conference of the International Telecommunications Society (ITS): "Innovative ICT Applications - Emerging Regulatory, Economic and Policy Issues", Budapest, Hungary, 18th-21st September, 2011
By integrating a communications system with the existing power grid, smart grids provide end-to-end connectivity. This enables all entities and components integrated in the electricity supply system to exchange information without knowing the network's structure. New services and applications such as demand response or virtual power plants that will aid to improve and optimize the use of electricity depend on the availability of a smart grid communication network. End-to-end communication networks require that the missing communications gap between consumers' premises and the remaining energy network is bridged by deploying an Advanced Metering Infrastructure (AMI). Given the current liberalized electricity markets' structure incumbent distribution system operators (DSOs) will control the AMI and the meter data. This gives rise to concerns about anti-competitiveness. We argue that leveraging the AMI in a social welfare maximizing way requires non-discriminatory access for all entitled parties to the (1) AMI and the (2) meter data through (3) interoperable standards. We discuss possible regulatory remedies to ensure a level playing-field for innovative services in smart grids and consider implications for research and regulation.