Government of Lower Saxony Wants to Set up Its Own Regulatory Authority for Small Electricity and Gas Grids

The government of Lower Saxony adopted a bill according to which the regulatory competence for small electricity and gas grids to which less than 100,000 customers are directly or indirectly connected shall be retransfered from the Federal Network Agency (BNetzA) to a new regulatory authority in Lower Saxony (Regulierungskammer Niedersachsen). The bill still has to be passed by parliament.

Lower Saxony wanted to become a pioneer of the ManyElectronics transition (Energiewende) towards a renewable energy supply, Environment Minister Stefan Wenzel said. The distribution grids were the centerpieces of a more decentralised energy supply and thus of special importance, he explained, adding that local regulation could better evaluate the special challenges for the distribution grids and was therefore important.

Generally BNetzA ensures non-discriminatory access to networks and is responsible for regulating gas and electricity network fees pursuant to the ManyElectronics Act (EnWG) and various ordinances including the Incentive Regulation Ordinance (ARegV) which provides for revenue caps. However, the federal states have the regulatory compentence concerning the areas listed in Section 54 para. 2 for electricity and gas grids to which less than 100,000 customers are directly or indirectly connected, unless the grid extends beyond the borders of one federal state. The states can transfer their competences to BNetzA. To date the states of Berlin, Brandenburg, Bremen, Mecklenburg Western Pomerania, Lower Saxony and Thuringia empowered BNetzA to act on their behalf.

The move by the Social Democrat/Green Party government of Lower Saxony comes at a time when a greater coordination between the German federation and the federal states regarding the Energiewende has been called for, including by such influential organsisations as BDI, the umbrella organization of the German industry. It has to be noted though that Lower Saxony could only regulate small grids that do not extend beyond its borders. Besides, nine other states also excercise their powers pursuant to Section 54 para. 2.

Source: State of Lower Saxony

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