A number of utilities, industry groups and technologies have created a new association tasked with promoting and helping to develop smart grid policies.

The Smart Energy Demand Coalition (SEDC) is modelled on a similar organization in the USA and says that by pooling the expertise and experience of its members, it can help policymakers make the right choices as smart grid technologies are rolled out across Europe.

“Our goal is to provide useful information on various issues including customer behaviour responsiveness, program and technology experiences, optimal market structures and rules, consumer needs and enabling technologies,” said Jessica Stromback, a Senior Partner at global energy think tank VaasaETT and Executive Director of SEDC.

SEDC’s members include EDF, ENEL, Gas Natural Fenosa, the Climate Group, Vodafone, Landis+Gyr, eMeter, the European Smart Meter Investment Group and the Demand Response and Smart Grid (DRSG) coalition.

One of the organization’s key tasks will be to promote the importance of developing demand side programmes alongside the rollout of smart grid technologies. It said in a statement that the success of the smart grid would depend on the ability of utilities to make energy demand ‘smart’, using tools such as feedback, pricing and automation.

“As we’ve seen in numerous smart meter pilots and rollouts throughout Europe, technological development without program development cannot provide adequate customer benefits to justify costs,” said Chris King, Chief Regulatory Officer at eMeter and SEDC’s Chairman.

According to SEDC, billions of euros are being spent on the development and rollout of smart grid technologies around Europe, yet little attention is being paid to the development and support of the demand side programmes that will be essential for successfully integrating them into the grid.

The SEDC will host an annual smart energy demand conference for all industry participants to share success stories and learnings in programmes ranging from pilots to large-scale rollouts. The SEDC will also have members-only meetings for EU programme and policy planning and development, quarterly information sharing and networking webinars, and an extensive database of demand side research and consumer-related information.