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BSI issues transitional rules for smart meter installation

BSI issues transitional rules for smart meter installation
Written by insideindyhomes

Based on a new administrative arrangement, existing smart meter gateways can continue to be operated and new ones can be installed. The Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) has withdrawn a court order from February 2020 and replaced it with a similar transitional requirement. In March 2021, the North Rhine-Westphalian Higher Administrative Court (OVG) initially stopped the obligation to install intelligent electricity meters in urgent proceedings.

The legal dispute is primarily about the interoperability of the four smart meter models that the BSI has certified until 2020. These are devices from EMH Metering, Power Plus Communications (PPC), Sagemcom Dr. Neuhaus and Theben AG. A “general decree” by the Bonn authority triggered the obligation to install measuring points from these four manufacturers. On the other hand, a competitor from Aachen sued and won the preliminary proceedings before the Higher Administrative Court. This ruled that the four gateways had not been properly checked for applicable requirements for technical interaction with other systems.

The BSI has now issued a new decree. In it, it states on the basis of paragraph 19 of the Measuring Point Operation Act that the use of the relevant products from PPC, EMH and Theben “is not associated with disproportionate risks and the intelligent measuring systems concerned have valid certificates” for interoperability. In principle, this also applies to the Smarty IQ from Sagemcom Dr. Neuhaus – but with the proviso that the required certificate “will be available within twelve months”. At the same time, the authority ordered the “immediate execution” of the substitute decree.

In December and January, the BSI had already issued the necessary certificates for the SMGWs from PPC, EMH and Theben. They could have “proved in the respective conformity assessment procedures with a high level of testing” that they met the requirements of the relevant Technical Guideline BSI-TR-03109-1, it said at the time. An independent body has confirmed this.

This certification is carried out in addition to the basic security check, the office explained at the same time: “The SMGW as the central communication unit of the intelligent measuring system must meet the minimum legal requirements of the Metering Point Operation Act. While compliance with IT security specifications is validated in the Common Criteria certification, the TR certification is proof of the interoperability of the SMGW.” According to this, the necessary functions for the tariffing of measured values ​​and interactions with other players in the intelligent power grid, such as the connection user and the gateway administrator, would be provided at the interfaces of the devices.

With the new decision, the BSI sees “the reliability of the infrastructure rollout in the interest of the energy transition” strengthened. It would be disproportionate to prohibit or stop the installation and further use, since the CC-certified technology already on the market has reached a high level of security, which has been re-established by the BSI. Software updates ensure that the modules “can be raised to the legally required level of interoperability”.

The decision was preceded by “an intensive coordination process” “in order to restore legal certainty for the actors involved in a timely manner after the decision by the Higher Administrative Court,” asserts the BSI. A package of measures was jointly developed which, in addition to the amendment to the Metering Point Operation Act that has already taken place, also provides for the gradual further development of technical standards. For this purpose, the TR was revised “in a very short time” with a focus on functional interoperability. At the same time, a formal conformity procedure was established.

Smart meter gateways are mandatory for households with an annual electricity consumption of more than 6000 kWh, which should be achieved with an average of five or more people. The smart meter installation is also mandatory for solar panels with an installed capacity between 7 and 100 kW or if consumers pay a reduced network fee for a heat pump or night storage heater or have their own charging points for electric cars.

According to a study, 17 percent of the population in this country had smart meters last year. Intelligent electricity meters and the associated interfaces are regarded as key components for controlling and billing relevant decentralized flexibility options such as photovoltaic systems on the roof. According to the researchers, Germany urgently needs more resources to increase the flexibility of the electricity market and thus achieve the goals of the energy transition. Decentralized technologies, for which smart meters are crucial, play an important role.

Last year, the Bundestag tried to create more legal certainty for SMGW installation with the climate protection package. Accordingly, data from such measuring devices should only be transmitted directly to the authorized bodies if the BSI has assessed this as technically possible and the Federal Network Agency has approved the procedure.


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