European court strengthens independence of German network regulator
Clean Energy Wire / Reuters
The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) has said that Germany's network regulator, the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), must act more independently when applying the bloc's electricity and gas regulations, reports news agency Reuters. Siding with a years-old European Commission complaint against Germany, the court in its ruling criticised the country’s practices regarding company unbundling rules and methods related to calculation network tariffs, among other details. The German law firm Becker Büttner Held (BBH) criticised the ruling and warned that the BNetzA could become a sort of “super-agency that would ultimately set and also apply its own law largely free from the legal requirements of the German legislator.” BBH offers consulting to energy and infrastructure companies affected by the actions of BNetzA. Among other things these companies have criticised the regulator’s plans that could lower grid fee revenues. “We now need an unambiguous European regulation that clearly defines the interaction of the national legislator and the regulatory authorities,” said BBH partner Christian Theobald. He added that this should happen within the framework of the upcoming revision of the EU gas directive.
The Federal Network Agency said in a press release that it "will continue to apply the existing German law for a transitional period until energy law adjustments have been made".
The agency supervises energy supply network operators and is involved in grid planning procedures and in keeping power generation capacity at a secure level. It ensures that all users can access and use the energy supply network on a non-discriminatory basis. Germany is in the middle of updating its power grid to make full use of all the renewable power generated but has battled with slow progress of building new grid connections.