Regulators

Stakeholder role in grid projects: 

In the electricity and gas market, Regulators (regulatory agencies) are responsible for ensuring non-discriminatory third-party access to networks and regulating the fees. They are obliged to ensure network security and supply. 

Their primary duty is to protect the interests of consumers, where possible by promoting competition. Consumers' interests are understood in the broadest sense, taking into account the reduction of greenhouse gases and the security of the supply of electricity, and not only prices. The Regulator for electricity typically covers the gas market, too. 

Each country in Europe has its own regulatory agency, e.g. Ofgem for Great Britain, BNetzA for Germany, CREG for Belgium, CER for Ireland etc. ACER is the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators.

Regulators have an influence in the general planning of new grid lines. They identify investment gaps within their national power lines (and at a European level with respect to cross-border capacities). Usually, TSOs develop their investment plans on a regular basis and it is the duty of the Regulator to assess these plans and monitor their implementation. Because Regulators have to sign off on TSOs’ investment plans, they play a role in determining the resources TSOs can allocate for choice of technology (e.g. cable types), stakeholder engagement and other aspects of the project.

In some countries, e.g. Germany under the grid development acceleration law NABEG, Regulators can also have the role of Permitting authorities on a national level.

 

Primary concern with grid projects: 
Usual patterns: 

Regulators assist in the determination of the need for new grid lines and assess the progress of all national and international grid development projects. The precise responsibilities of the national Regulators differ from country to country. 

Since Regulators seek to ensure network stability and the safe supply of energy, they have an interest in a fast and conflict free grid development once their need is determined.

Regulators are responsible for ensuring non-discriminatory third-party access to networks and to promote competition. For this reason, they may promote certain grid development projects more actively.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Is the grid development project a national or international one?    
  • Which Regulators are involved and what is their role? 
  • Does the Regulator have a particular interest in seeing the grid project in question succeeding? For example, is it aligned with the Regulator’s broader goals of promoting competition and consumer interests?
Topography within stakeholder group: 
Usual patterns: 

There is one national Regulator for each Member State which usually covers the electricity and gas markets. ACER is the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators. In some countries, e.g. Germany, certain regulation activities can be executed by regional or federal regulatory authorities.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Are Regulators from different levels (EU, national, regional) involved in a specific project?  
  • Which department, unit, or individual is responsible for engaging with the particular development project?
Individuals within stakeholder organisations/entities: 
Further project-specific questions: 
  •  
Project stage for engagement: 
Usual patterns: 

Regulators play an important role at the stage of Determination of need. Depending on the country specific laws, their role is typically to support, to guide and to monitor the development of new grid development projects at this early stage. In certain countries, for example in Germany, Regulators’ responsibility extends into later project stages as well.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Can the Regulator be engaged to communicate with a broader audience regarding the overall process which a grid development project has gone through and will go through, providing essential information to other stakeholders? 
Adequate communication channels for participation/cooperation: 
Usual patterns: 

Regulators can host their own events or take part in events organised by TSOs.

Events organised by Regulators are typically about the work/role of the Regulator itself, the general need for grid development projects or the Presentation of network development plans. Regulators may also organise events as a means to foster public participation in grid development projects, an activity which also falls under their remit.

For TSOs, it can be a good idea to invite representatives from the Regulators to one of their events. This can serve two aims: First, Regulators can explain their efforts to protect consumer interests and to promote competition. They can also answer questions from the audience regarding their agency and its work or explain the decisions related to their work. Second, taking part in these events helps the Regulators to understand the concerns of the public and to consider these concerns in their decisions where appropriate and possible.

Further project-specific questions: 
  • Who are the right representatives to invite for a public event? What can they contribute?
Adequate communication formats for participation/cooperation: 
Further project-specific questions: 
  •  
Country-specific examples: 

In Germany, the national Regulator BNetzA plays a very important role in drafting the national grid development plan. They supervise the work of the four TSOs, ensure public consultation and participation at several early stages and approve the final plan to be presented to the federal government.