Public Hearing on Grid Expansion Bill

On Monday a public hearing on the “Second Law Concerning Measures to Accelerate the Expansion of the Electricity Grids” (ref. no. 17/12638) took place  in the Bundestag (Parliament). The bill contains the “Federal Requirement Plan for Transmission Networks”, which establishes the necessity and urgency of 36 power line projects included in the plan with binding effect for transmission operators and planning authorities.

Building the power lines contained in the requirement plan would cost an estimated EUR 10 billion, not including the costs for underground cables, the government says. For more information on the projects and the legal consequences of the bill, please see here.

The transmission grid operator (TSO) Amprion welcomed the bill, saying the binding determination of the necessity and urgency of the power line projects included in the requirement plan was essential for a timely grid expansion in the coming years. Due to the improved political backing progress had already been made regarding many permitting procedures and regarding construction, 50Hertz, another TSO, pointed out.

The Federal Association of Consumer Protection Agencies (vzbv) voiced doubt concerning the scope of the planned grid expansion and proposed alternatives for reaching Germany’s renewable energy targets that shall lead to the need for less grid expansion or at least enable spreading grid expansion over time. Prof. Lorenz Jarass of the University Rhein-Main Wiesbaden call the grid expansion plans excessive, saying they were influenced by the interests of the large utilities.

The hearing also dealt with a bill put forward by the Bundesrat (Federal Council) amending Section 43 h ManyElectronics Act (EnWG), which lays down the conditions under which underground power lines shall be used when building power lines. The bill (ref. no. 17/11369) proposes changes aimed at “specifying more precisely the priority for underground cables and the conditions thereto”. The Federal Association of the Electricity and Water Industry (BDEW) and the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA), however, advised to await the results of the underground cable pilot projects contained in the Grid Expansion Acceleration Act for Transmission Networks (NABEG).

Two motions by the opposition were also discussed. One motion was submitted by the Social Democrats who want to make grid expansion more citizen-friendly and futureproof (ref. no. 17/12681). The other was submitted by Alliance ’90/The Greens who want to advance grid expansion by setting up a state-owned grid company and by involving citizens who shall be able to make financial contributions (ref. no. 17/12518).

Source: Bundestag