German Federal Network Agency Presents Annual Report 2012

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) has presented its Annual Report for 2012 for the telecoms, postal services, railway, gas and electricity sectors. Jochen Homann, the president of BNetzA, called for a new market design for conventional as well as renewable energy, and once again advised customers to make use of the possibilities of the liberalised market to switch suppliers.

Integrating the (fluctuating) input of renewable energy into the electricity grids was critical for the German energy policy shift towards a renewable energy supply and working towards this goal one of the main tasks of BNetzA, the agency said. It pointed out that it reviewed and approved the first electricity grid development plan, which the transmission operators are required to submit pursuant to the German Energy Act (EnWG), in 2012.

Based on the grid development plan the German Bundestag (Federal Parliament) recently adopted the “Second Law Concerning Measures to Accelerate the Expansion of the Electricity Grids, which contains the “Federal Requirement Plan for Transmission Networks”. The Requirement Plan sets out 36 transmission power line projects, which are considered necessary and urgent in the sense of the EnWG within the next ten years. They shall therefore receive special regulatory treatment to accelerate grid expansion. The final vote on the bill in the Federal Council (Bundesrat) that represents the legal interests of the sixteen German states on the federal level, is scheduled for June 2013. BNetzA therefore expects the individual planning and permitting procedures to start this summer. The agency was well prepared for its new tasks concerning grid expansion and wanted to cooperate closely with the federal states, Mr Homann emphasised.

Wherever possible competition should be the driving force in the generation sector, BNetzA said, adding that the markets needed to provide stronger signals than today. The growing input of renewable energy in the grids affected the profitability of conventional power plants, since renewable energy had priority in the grids (pursuant to the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG)) and had to be purchased and remunerated with fixed feed-in tariffs (that exceed the electricity prices at the energy exchange). The problem would probably increase with a further growing amount of renewable energy. In order to reach the energy policy goals (which include inter alia the security of supply), a new set of market rules was needed that provided reliable investment signals for renewable as well as conventional generation, BNetzA demanded. Regarding the latest efforts to reform the EEG, please see here.

In April 2012 the average electricity price for household customers amounted to 26.06 ct/kWh. This was an increase of 2.4% compared with the previous year, despite the price-dampening effects of changes of suppliers and tariff changes, BNetzA reported (regarding the increase of the EEG surcharge for 2012, please see here.) In view of almost 40% of the household customers with no special supply arrangements (Grundversorgung), the most expensive form of supply, BNetzA president Jochen Homann called again on customers to check for cheaper options for supply and consider changing the supplier.

Source: Federal Network Agency

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