EURELECTRIC Applauds Inclusion of Distribution Grids in EU Network Policy, Makes Recommendations for Streamlining Authorisation Procedures

06 April 2009

EURELECTRIC welcomes the move initiated by the European Commission, in its Green Paper on Energy Networks, to update the Guidelines for Trans-European Energy Networks (TEN-E) and extend the scope of current EU energy network policy. The inclusion of distribution networks - alongside transmission grids - in European energy network policy is a positive step and EURELECTRIC is also pleased to note that the strategic importance of an intelligent grid is recognised in the Green Paper. These are key points set out in a paper drawn up by EURELECTRIC's Networks Committee in response to the 3-month consultation launched by the Green Paper.

Investments in electricity networks will be of primordial importance in supporting and promoting key areas of EU energy policy. Efficient networks serve to enhance overall supply security, support the wider objective of driving forward the integration of Europe's power markets and will be an indispensable element in achieving the EU "2020" energy-climate targets. The new legislation, which calls for 20% of all EU energy to be produced from renewable energy sources (RES) by 2020, implies a 35% share forRES-power in total electricity supply and both Transmission System Operators (TSOs) and Distribution System Operators (DSOs) will have a central role to play by upgrading their grids in order to enable the integration of vast new volumes ofRES-power.

However, many constraints currently hinder grid operators from proceeding with their planned capital expenditure, the EURELECTRIC paper points out. These include authorisation procedures for new grid investments that are too lengthy and cumbersome; persistently high resistance to the installation of new grid lines from local authorities and/or public opinion; the challenge, in the present economic climate, of securing long-term financing for networks; lack of stable regulatory environment and appropriate remuneration in the regulated segment of the electricity industry, which persistently discourages investment.

EURELECTRIC is therefore calling on European policymakers for their support. The Networks Committee has identified several domains where the European Commission should take action. Our recommendations include:

• Setting a minimum requirement for EU-wide harmonisation of authorisation procedures for grid investments. The European Union should fix a time-limit/time line that must not be exceeded by the parties involved in the consenting procedure

• The Commission should invite the European energy regulators' body (ERGEG/CEER) to publish a report or guidelines of good practice on consenting procedures for energy networks in EU Member States. The report should highlight best practices among Member States in this field

• The Commission should make stronger commitment to the communication process with national and local stakeholders (regulators, TSOs, DSOs and relevant government bodies) during the consenting phase

• Investment in new transmission capacity is critical to achieving a successful transition to a low-carbonEurope. We suggest that it may be appropriate in certain projects to consider the carbon benefits in the justification process as this will help to demonstrate the legitimacy and validity of the investment

• Specific regulatory incentives for smart grids so as to facilitate: the integration of distributed power generation, especially fromRES; a broad roll-out of smart meters and demand-side management (DSM) devices; plus wide integration of electric vehicles into the distribution networks.

These measures would help the electricity industry to upgrade and expand the European electricity grid so as to meet the challenges of combatting climate change, ensuring reliability and security of supply and moving towards a better-integrated and functioning European electricity market, the EURELECTRIC paper underlines.  

Contact

  • Anamaria OLARU

    Advisor
    Press & Media Relations
    Distribution

    Tel.: +32 2 515 10 71