BNetzA: First Draft Decisions on Certification of German Transmission System Operators

The Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) informed that it submitted the first draft decisions concerning the certification of electricity and gas transmission system operators (TSOs) to the European Commission. As things currently stand, Tennet TSO GmbH was considered not to meet the certification criteria.

The certification procedure is based on Section 4a EnWG et seqq., which were introduced with the Act Amending Energy Law related Provisions (Gesetz zur Neuregelung energiewirtschaftsrechtlicher Vorschriften) that was part of the 2011 energy legislative package. The provisions transpose Directives 2009/72/EC and 2009/73/EC on the internal markets for electricity and gas into German law that provide for a certification.

The Directives require the unbundling of transmission system operators. The German unbundling provisions can be found in parts 2 and 3 of the EnWG. BNetzA therefore reviewed compliance with the unbundling provisions, which also contain requirements regarding sufficient financial means to fulfill the obligations of a TSO pursuant to EnWG (e.g. Section 9 para. 2 sent. 1 and Section 10 a para. 1 sent. 1 EnWG).

The draft decisions issued by BNetzA cover 50 Hertz Transmission GmbH, Amprion GmbH and TenneT TSO GmbH, three of the four TSOs in the electricity sector, and to the following TSOs from the gas sector: bayernets GmbH, Fluxys TENP GmbH, GRTgaz Deutschland GmbH, jordgas Transport GmbH, Nowega GmbH und terranets bw GmbH. In the case of six other companies the examinations have not yet been completed, as additional information had to be required, BNetzA said, adding that draft decisions would be submitted to the European Commission within the next months.

Except in the case of TenneT TSO GmbH, all other draft decisions will grant certification albeit with obligations, BNetzA president Jochen Homann said. TenneT has so far not submitted the necessary proof about the financial means needed to fulfill its legal obligations to operate and extend the transmission grid, he explained. However, TenneT could still do so in the course of the procedure, he said.

In November 2011, Tennet had informed the Chancellery and the competent ministries of difficulties with the offshore grid connection in its transmission system control area (Regelzone) that includes the North Sea. Under the existing framework conditions and in view of a lack of personnel, material and financial resources of all parties involved, offshore grid connection was no longer desirable and possible at the current rate and in the current form, Tennet said at the time. In the wake of Tennet’s letter a new  Working Group for the Acceleration of Grid Connection of Offshore Wind Farms was set up and the Ministry of Economics and Technology, and the Ministry for the Environment recently presented key items for a future liability regime for offshore wind farm grid connection (and an offshore grid development plan), one of the major sticking points in the discussion about offshore grid connection.

The Commission has two months to respond to the draft decisions by BNetzA. Subsequently BNetzA has another two months to issue a decision taking account of a response of the Commission. The decisions will be published in the official gazette of BNetzA.

The justification given by BNetzA for the negative draft decision only pertained to offshore investments, not to onshore activities and the maintenance of the existing grid, Tennet said. In view of its warnings in the past, Tennet was not surprised about the draft decision, the company said. It was ready to prove its financial capability, but this required a solution for financing offshore projects, which could only be brought about with political support, the company added. 

Source: Federal Network Agency; Tennet

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