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Category: Energy efficiency

 

The sixth and final trilogue on the proposed Energy Efficiency Directive was held on 13-14 June in Strasbourg. As a result of discussions at the trilogue, a number of compromise elements were put forward. Important changes were also made as regards the previously proposed requirements for energy billing information.

 

 

In effect of these amendments the new Energy Efficiency Directive, which according to the original draft version (Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council on energy efficiency and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC of 22 June 2011 COM(2011) 370 final 2011/0172 (COD) {SEC(2011) 779 final} {SEC(2011) 780 final}) was quite revolutionary, has lost its intended character.

 

The said evolution is clearly visible taking for instance the changes made to Annex  VI to the draft Directive stating minimum requirements for billing. It does not appear that the current, compromise requirements in that regard could be excessively burdensome for energy companies.

 

Billing frequency

 

As the draft Directive at present stipulates,

In order to enable final customers to regulate their own energy consumption, billing should take place on the basis of actual consumption at least once a year, and billing information should be made available at least quarterly, on request or where the consumers have opted to receive electronic billing or else twice yearly. Gas used only for cooking purposes may be exempted from this requirement.’

 

The original European Commission’s proposal of 22 June 2011 as regards the frequency of billing based on actual consumption previously provided for following rules:

 

a) On a monthly basis for electricity consumption.

 

b) At least every two months for the consumption of natural gas. Where gas is used for individual heating, billing shall be provided on a monthly basis.

 

c) With centralised heating and cooling, billing shall be provided on a monthly basis during the heating/cooling season.

 

d) At least every two months for hot water billing.

 

So, under the new framework the above rigorous frequencies are apparently given up.


Minimum information contained in the bill

 

With respect to minimum information contained in the bill the draft Directive requires Member States to ensure that, where appropriate, the following information is made available to final customers in clear and understandable terms in or with their bills, contracts, transactions, and receipts at distribution stations:

 

(a) current actual prices and actual consumption of energy;

 

(b) comparisons of the final customer's current energy consumption with    consumption for the same period in the previous year, preferably in graphic form;

 

(c) contact information for final customers’ organisations, energy agencies or similar bodies, including website addresses, from which information may be obtained on available energy efficiency improvement measures, comparative end-user profiles and objective technical specifications for energy-using equipment.

 

It is noteworthy that ‘comparisons with an average normalised or benchmarked final customer in the same user category’ are required by the definitive text of the draft of the Directive to be included in the billing information only ‘wherever possible and useful’. This is a significant regress in comparison with the original Commission’s proposal, where the information at issue was obligatory.

 

Lastly, Annex VI in the current form of the draft Directive places an obligation as regards advice on energy efficiency accompanying bills and other feedback to final customers. Namely, when sending contracts and contract changes, and in the bills customers receive or through websites addressing individual customers, energy distributors, distribution system operators and retail energy sales companies are obliged to inform their customers in a clear and understandable manner of contact information for independent consumer advice centres, energy agencies or similar institutions, including their internet addresses, where they can obtain advice on available energy efficiency measures, benchmark profiles for their energy consumption and technical specifications of energy using appliances that can serve to reduce the consumption of these appliances.

 


 

Provisions on interface enabling secure communication - deleted

 

It’s a pity that the European institutions engaged in trilogue definitively resigned from interesting provisions included in the original Commissions proposal, which required Member States to ensure when an individual meter is installed that it is connected to an interface which provides secure communication to the final customer, enabling the meter to export private metrological data to the final customer or a third party designated by the final customer.

 

It was intended for the said interface to provide private information enabling final customers to better control their energy consumption and use the information for further potential analysis. Such information to be indicated by the said interface were at least the current rate of consumption (e.g. kWh, kJ, m3) and related costs with access to public data that allows the final customer to consult and use the applicable time-of-use tariffs with real-time pricing, peak time pricing and peak time rebates.

 

The private data exported through the interface were required to offer the final customer a possibility to consult his/her historic consumption levels (in local currency and in kWh, kJ or m3):

a) in the last seven days, day by day;

b) in the last complete week;

c) in the last complete month;

d) in the same complete month the previous year;

e) in the last complete year.

 

The original Commission’s proposal required to be made easily accessible either directly through the interface or via the internet complementary information on historical consumption (any day, week, month, year from the start-up of intelligent metering) and other useful information allowing for more detailed self-checks by the consumer (e.g. graphic evolutions of individual consumption; benchmarking information, cumulative consumption/savings/spendings from the beginning of each contract, proportion of the individual consumption from renewable sources of energy and related CO2 savings, etc)

 

Moreover, heat cost allocators were required to be equipped with clearly legible displays allowing the final customer to consult the current rate of consumption as well as historic consumption levels matching the billing periods.

 

All these useful provisions regarding the exploitation of the interface at issue have not ultimately been included in the text of the Annex VI to the draft Energy Efficiency Directive adopted at the trilogue. In effect these requirements will not be mandatory.