EU TSOs could face probe into grid-congestion practices

24 October 2008 – The European Commission could launch a probe into allegations that EU power transmission system operators push congestion to the borders of their grid systems, according to Platts.

At a Eurelectric conference, Platts reported, Celine Gauer, head of the energy and environment antitrust unit in the EC’s competition department, said: “A possible future issue is the allegation that transmission system operators are shifting congestion to the border by cutting interconnector flows.”

“Cutting trade and restricting customer access is not something that goes down well in the commission’s competition department,” said Gauer. “We think it is important to have market signals – if the block is in the middle of the grid, it has to be tackled there.”

Gauer said her unit was exploring the issue and was not ready to bring a case against any individual TSO yet. It might be better to have a regulatory solution, she said, for example changing guidelines or obligations to make all TSOs comply at once.

A marked increase in renewable electricity output, in particular wind power, is set to exacerbate the problem, she said. “With more renewables, there will be more pressure on the grid, and that will increase the risk that TSOs push it to the border.”

Gauer said “the solution could be investment at a particular point in the grid,” but the commission did not have the competence to tell TSOs where to target such efforts, she added.