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Smart Electricity Systems:

Access Conditions for Household Customers under EU Law

Lea Diestelmeier, Dirk Kuiken


Achieving the EU policy goals of a secure, affordable, and sustainable electricity system available to all household customers requires the deployment of smart electricity systems (SES). In SES, all actors (eg consumer, producers, system operators) in the system are enabled to interact with each other by means of information and communication technology (ICT). From an infrastructural perspective SES can therefore also be described as electricity systems that are enhanced with communication systems. Both the electricity- and communication systems are subject to specific access conditions for household customers imposed by EU legislation. Whereas household customers have a clear right to access the electricity system, their right to access communication systems is limited. This article hypothesises that without the legal guarantees to ensure access for household customers to SES communication systems, the level playing field for household customers to participate in SES might be distorted. Therefore, this article addresses the following research question: what are the legal conditions for household customers to access SES communication services and what are their guarantees for accessing SES communication services? The article identifies four different options for household customers to access communication systems for SES under current EU legislation. Furthermore, it concludes that ensuring a level playing field for household customers to participate in SES requires EU and national policy makers to guarantee comparable conditions for household customers to access SES communication services.

Lea Diestelmeier, LL.M. and Dirk Kuiken, LL.M. are both PhD candidates at the Groningen Centre of Energy Law, University of Groningen. For correspondence: <> and <>. The authors wish to express their gratitude to Prof Dr Martha Roggenkamp and Prof Dr Hans Vedder for their valuable support writing this article and to the Netherlands Organisation for Scientific Research (NWO) for enabling this research under the project ‘Uncertainty Reduction in Smart Energy Systems’. A concept of this article has been presented as a conference paper at the Florence School of Regulation’s 5th Conference on Regulation of Infrastructures (The Challenges of Digitalisation and the Use of Data) on 24 June 2016, Florence, Italy. The authors would also like to thank the Florence School of Regulation for this opportunity and the participants of this conference for the valuable comments. A short version of this article has been published in Network Industries Quarterly, Autumn 2016 issue. DOI: 10.21552/core/2017/1/7


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