The requirements for a grid service provider in Germany are being defined not only by the general technical conditions of the grid infrastructure. The standards set by the national regulatory authority also exert a significant influence. With the resolution BK6-06-009 (GPKE), a comprehensive standardization of data formats and business processes in the German power industry is being effected by the resolution court 6 of the federal network agency. Alongside the processes, change of supplier, delivery start and end and compensatory supply, in particular the exchange of power performance data, meter data and consumption information, are being regulated uniformly.

The objective is to conduct information exchange between the individual energy suppliers via automated electronic interfaces using clearly defined data formats. At the same time the execution of the business processes is being realized via the international EDIFACT standard.

The implementation of the GPKE is being realized in three steps: Since August 1, 2007 the data regarding change of supplier as well as consumption information are being processed via the data formats UTILMD, MSCONS, APERAK, CONTRL and REQDOC. The registering distributor of the grid customer as well as the affected grid operator have to be able to generate, read and process the respective EDIFACT data.

After October 1, 2007 the data exchange will be extended to the communications types
INVOIC and REMADV. These refer to data for processing and billing of grid usage and have to be used on the demand of the grid operator or the grid user.

Up to October 1, 2009 there is an exception rule for vertically integrated organizations (acc. §3 no. 38 EnWG). This rule states that certain process steps may be omitted in case of a joint database. If applicable, other data formats or communication types may be stipulated bilaterally, as long as the usage of these formats is being provided non-discriminatingly to third parties.

The implementation of the GPKE presents a strong challenge for the associated software systems. In large grid areas, millions of measured data points have to be assembled and processed every day. This data has to be edited and checked before dispatch and it has to be comprehensible to the recipient. In this case the regulatory authority acts on the assumption that the process is successfully completed according to the system requirements and that no data is lost. However, a certain risk exists for suppliers compliant to GPKE. Supposing that the distribution system operator does not answer the electronic messages accordingly, he can still be held liable for accruing extra costs, e.g. additional expenditures caused by manual post-processing.

Grid operators and distribution companies see further problems arising in the course of the implementation of the GPKE. For example a cancellation and a reversed transaction may become very complex. Furthermore, neither a ready test nor a performance test is being conducted.

This signifies that it is not clear which fraction of the grid operators is actually proficient in the GPKE compliant data exchange, or which data is being processed manually and transferred to the EDIFACT dispatches. Consequently the risk of increasing error rate in the course of the data transfer exists.

Also, the GPKE does not require consistent usage of a service oriented architecture (near real time results would in principle be possible during the change process). Instead usages lie at 45 days and therefore are very long.

Furthermore the question arises as to how the identification of the metering point is being realized. Currently the Metering Code is not being used consistently by grid operators and energy suppliers. As yet, the meter number or name – and not the metering point - serves as the identification. The risk exists that this may well hinder process automation.

This review shows that currently market barriers still exist. However, these will be removed in the course of the transition period to 2009. An area-wide implementation of the GPKE increasingly provides energy suppliers, for example Entega Service GmbH, with the chance to reduce costs with standardized processes and to gain marketability. Against a background of increasing competition and high costs, a standardization – after its complete implementation – can also be used as an option by small and mid-sized organisations.