Finnish Energy Industries draft answer to CEER public consultation The future role of DSOs

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1 Finnish Energy Industries draft answer to CEER public consultation The future role of DSOs Respondents information Name Ina Lehto Name of organisation Finnish Energy Industries Type of organisation Other If other, please specify Finnish Energy Industries (Energiateollisuus ry) is a trade organisation for producers, suppliers, transmission, distributors and sales of electricity, for district heating and district cooling, and for design, implementation, operation, maintenance and construction of networks and power plants. EC Register ID number Telephone Do you agree with these three core principles? Principle 1: The DSO must run its business in a way which reflects the reasonable expectations of network users and other stakeholders Principle 2: The DSO must act as a neutral market facilitator in undertaking its core functions Principle 3: The DSO must act in the public interest, taking account of costs and benefits DIS New principle to be added: We suggest a 4 th principle: The DSO should have economical means to fulfill its duties. Regulation has a big role in assuring that DSOs have adequate revenues to fulfill the named 3 principles. This should be seen as an important principle in itself. Comments on Principle 1: In description of principle 1, the role of DSO is described too narrowly. Depending on national market model, role of DSO can also involve interaction (e.g. network service contract and customer relationship) with the end customers, including domestic consumers. Level and need for customer interaction depends on market model chosen in the Member State. Comments on Principle 2: In description of principle 2, it is stated that the DSO brand and communication policy should be clearly distinguished from the rest of the vertically integrated company/group to avoid confusing consumers. Generally we agree with this. However, it needs to be noted that in some cases DSO can be the same legal entity as the mother company (only functional unbundling). In these cases of course brand cannot be distinguished. However, in customer communication a clear distinction 1

2 between DSO business and other businesses can be pointed out, thus avoiding confusing the customer. Comments on Principle 3: In description of principle 3 it is stated that legislation and/or regulation may put obligations on DSOs to perform tasks that are not solely in the interest of the DSO in a business sense. We strongly believe that DSOs shouldn't be forced to any new additional roles not relating to DSO business and network service. F. ex. any social welfare measures need to be handled via other channels than DSOs. General comment: It needs to be noted that market models differ significantly in different Member States also concerning DSOs role towards end customers (customer relationship). Thus, it is important that in all suggestions made in CEER s report this diversity is respected and taken into account. This is why we strongly agree with CEER statement on page 5 there is no one size fits all model for the regulation of DSOs. Therefore, in assessing the activities which DSOs may engage in in the future, national specificities must be taken into account. 2. What challenges would new forms of stakeholders (e.g. community or municipal energy schemes and ESCOs) bring to DSOs and to existing approaches? The question is very broad and therefore it is hard to draw a precise list of challenges. We can offer only a non-exhaustive list: New players will bring new types of contracts Clear and transparent rules in case of conflicting targets will be needed Communication difficulties, time delay and even cost overrun may come up Costs of information exchange need to be covered. For DSOs f. ex. handling letters of attorney can be a big administrative burden for the DSO. These new tasks increase operational costs and need to be taken into account in regulation. The need to develop more cost reflective network tariffs increases with more actions that reduce energy usage, but not peak power (thus not affecting DSOs costs). These actions are namely PV and other microgeneration, heat pumps and many other energy efficiency measures. 3. Do you agree with the proposed logical framework? Are there other important questions which should be included in the framework? DIS 2

3 We agree with the proposed logical framework. As stated correctly by CEER there is no one size fits all model for the regulation of DSOs (page 5), therefore it should be left to national legislation to define which activities and under which circumstances these activities can be conducted by the DSOs. 4. Do you agree with the proposed assessment of activities and are there any additional grey areas for DSOs other than those considered? DIS B5: We don t see that the DSO should have any role in selling electricity, not even as a supplier of last resort (this is also the principle the current Finnish market model is built upon). We see that social policy (direct welfare support) should substitute for social tariffs and regulated prices. There is no such thing as singly energy poverty, only poverty in general. These customers are normally already customers of social offices. Social authorities have better knowledge and expertise to help these people than customer service personnel of energy companies. In most cases where customers have energy debts they are likely to have other debts and their circumstances may require a more holistic approach in order to provide effective support. This is why we do not support sector-specific social legislation and believe it should be for social policy to ensure that essential services are met and to help consumers tackle the root causes of total debt, including energy debt. D1: Local dispatching of local resources. This should in fact be category II or III (allowed for DSOs under conditions). Also we don t see that higher level of unbundling is needed if the 3 rd package is fully and appropriately implemented. D2: Storage. DSO should be allowed to build storage to solve congestion problems and use it as an asset management solution. F1 and F2: It is stated that activities such as owning and managing metering equipment (F1), are carried out by DSOs in most European countries. However, this is not the sole model. Alternatively, a market driven approach is possible (F2), where metering activities are carried out by separate, independent meter operators. It is important to notice that the main difference between F1 and F2 should not be ownership, but responsibility assigned in legislation. If DSO f. ex. leases metering infrastructure, but has legal responsibility of it, it should be F1 not F2. G3: The activity G3 (providing advanced devices and added-value services for energy efficiency), needs clarification. DSOs should be allowed to provide customers with information if seen appropriate in the national market model. E.g. providing hourly consumption data should be ok (current mandatory DSO online services in Finland). Also energy efficiency agreements and other national energy efficiency measures currently apply also to DSOs. This principle has been seen effective and shouldn t be changed. According to the Energy Efficiency Directive, Article 7 the member states need to implement an energy efficiency obligation on either distributors or retailers. 3

4 5. For activities falling in category II and III, under which regulatory conditions could DSO intervention be allowed? Category II: Allowed under conditions (no potential competition) Category III: Allowed under conditions (potential competition, but special reason justifying DSO participation) Third Energy Package legal unbundling rules for DSOs set the right regulatory conditions for the activities falling into categories II and III. 6. Do you agree with the assessment of DSO access to data and data management? DIS We agree with CEER that current legal unbundling rules provided by the Third Energy Package are an appropriate framework for the DSO to act as data hub, if strictly implemented. We do not believe that ownership unbundling is the best solution. We note that there is a misunderstanding on the definition of commercial and technical data. It is unjustified and difficult to divide data into technical and commercial this way. The same data can sometimes have both a technical and commercial purpose. Technical data can also easily become commercial data if market changes. Depending on national market models DSOs may require also customer specific consumption data to fulfill their duties (e.g. formulation of bills or solving electricity quality issues). 4

5 DSO access to metering data is essential in order to optimize the operation and planning of distribution network. For instance, individual customer data is used in Network Planning and fault repair. If DSOs ability to use Smart Metering and other available data to fulfil their regulated duties is too limited, many of the possible benefits of Smart Meter roll-out cannot be utilized. This is not in the best interest of the customer. DSO as a regulated entity of course has to ensure that customer data is handled in line with data privacy requirements. 7. Risks of DSOs participating in "grey areas": Do you agree that the risk of DSOs participating in some of the grey areas (particularly flexibility and DSR) decreases the more separated a DSO s operational activities are from other competitive activities carried out by other companies within the same vertically integrated group? "Grey areas" as defined in page 11 of the consultation document: Category II. Activity allowed under conditions (no potential competition) Category III. Activity allowed under conditions (potential competition, but special reason justifying DSO participation) Category IV. Activity not allowed (potential competition and no special reason justifying DSO participation) DIS We believe that the risk is already minimized by proper implementation of the 3 rd Energy Package. 8. Do you agree with first considerations on the de minimis threshold? DIS In order to agree and comment, more information on how this is planned to be done is required. 9. YES NO a. Do you consider all the activities and topics described in this Chapter as relevant to further defining a regulatory framework for DSO-TSO relationship and responsibilities? Yes, the chapter comprehensively describes the relevant activities and topics on the DSO-TSO interface. We appreciate that the need for more coordination between DSO-TSO in procurement of system services as well as in operation is acknowledged. 5

6 b. Are any activities or topics missing in the DSO-TSO relationship discussion? YES NO 10. Do you agree with the description of the activities and topics in this Chapter? If not, what is your view on your specific activity or topic that is relevant for the DSO-TSO relationship? DIS We agree, but some issues need clarification: It is utmost important that transparency between DSO and TSO works both ways. In real time grid operation the connection point (legal ownership point) between DSO and TSO is the key. All parties have to be aware of what happens in this point and what e.g. operational requirements in this point are and how one party s actions affect this point. This can be dealt with in the connection agreement between customer, DSO and TSO. A balance needs to be found between necessary new obligations and overloading DSOs with new information gathering/sharing tasks etc. This requires national considerations, because the right balance depends highly on national situation. 11. Do you agree with the statement that further regulatory guidelines may be required (in addition to current Network Codes) and if so, which regulatory guidelines do you consider necessary? DIS General provisions, mainly in the EU network codes that are being drafted or about to be adopted, are sufficient. We do not see a need for additional regulatory guidelines or another network code. Additional regulation may need to be developed at national level between the TSO(s) and DSO(s) taking into account national situations. European guidelines should focus on cross-border issues. 6

7 12. a. What, if any, are the particular or incremental risks attached to innovative and non-conventional investments? Do these warrant special recognition by NRAs? This depends highly on the regulatory model. The risk of stranded costs must be taken into consideration. 13. b. To which extent, if any, is this incremental risk borne by DSOs? a. Does the conventional focus on rate of return regulation on capital expenditure, and in some cases limited pass through of OPE, have the effect of discouraging certain smart grid investments? We would like to outline that not only investments in smart grid infrastructure are needed but also investments to replace conventional grid components that are coming to the end of lifetime (transformers, cables, power electro etc.) and grid extensions (e.g. to connect new customers) which are the backbone of the distribution grid. The current regulatory framework has to allow DSOs to undertake all needed investments, both innovative and conventional ones. b. What alternative approaches help incentivize DSOs to adopt smart grids? Smart grid investments, where the life time is unclear, should be allowed higher rate of return or shorter theoretical life time. Regulation should include a special innovation incentive. 14. CEER would welcome views from stakeholders on the pros and cons of output based incentives. Please also define for which regulatory incentives they might be appropriate. 15. Do you agree that to allow timely recovery of DSO revenues, assumptions on consumption patterns in tariff models could be updated within price control periods? () 7

8 DIS Some issues need clarification: In 3.2 it is stated: The success of DSR in reducing energy and network costs will depend on consumers being willing to change their pattern of demand or generation in exchange for a financial payment. This payment should take account of wider system benefits resulting from the response, allowing for appropriate redistribution among all parties involved. It is unclear how these wider benefits could be taken into account in the payment? In 3.2 it is stated: automation of equipment at consumers premises can help them provide DSR and that CEER sees this primarily as a contractual matter between the consumers and the energy service provider [ ] We agree. However, some of these actions could also be performed via Smart Meters. If this is the chosen national solution, the DSO will have a role in providing infrastructure via meters. In 3.3 it is stated: Consumption of electricity by some customers is falling. This is due to a variety of reasons [ ]. Where DSO electricity tariffs are primarily recovered through a consumption charge ( per kwh), DSOs are concerned that they will be unable to recover the allowed revenues set by regulators. DSOs are also concerned that the consumption charge may be disproportionately high (in comparison to the capacity element). In addition to DSO cost recovery, even bigger issue is customer inequality. Customers should be treated equally and they should cover their fair share of network costs. Free-riding should not be allowed. This requires a change in DSO tariff structures. Also we strongly believe that it's important to encourage customers towards overall efficiency of the whole energy system (not only energy efficiency). We disagree with some statements in Table 1 (part 3.3) In addition to strength of economic signal to consumers and certainty of recovery for DSOs, simplicity should be one core issue as stated also in chapter 3.2. First two rows (flat) can be seen as simple and the latter two rows (time of use) as complex. Strength of economic signal for customer is not necessarily Medium in flat rate capacity charge. It could also be "High" if implemented properly. This option can lead into long term energy savings as opposed to the time of use options which may lead only into short term savings. Certainty of recovery for DSOs is not High in choice flat rate consumption charge. It is either Medium or Low depending on regulatory model and the amount of selfconsumption. DSO tariff structure development should establish a pricing scheme for DSOs that encourages endusers to behave in a way the overall efficiency of the energy system, including generation, transmission and distribution, are maximized, while the total costs to the national economy are minimised. This objective is not met with the current network tariff structures. That s why a power based component has to be included in the tariff structure. The majority of DSOs costs are based on the connected peak power demand. Capacity based grid tariffs would encourage consumers to reduce their contracted demand. This will be more cost reflective and at the same time, will incentivise the shifting of energy use from peak times to hours with lower demand, encouraging the energy system efficiency. A combination of ToU electricity 8

9 retail pricing and power based network tariffs will incentivize customers towards overall efficiency and promote demand response, as demanded in the Energy Efficiency Directive. 16. How can ToU network tariffs be coordinated with system energy prices? This could be quite complex. There's no need for this if simple capacity based network tariffs are introduced. It is logical that supply tariffs have time of use components following system energy prices and network tariffs are capacity based. On page 34 it is stated that The Energy Efficiency Directive states that NRAs should ensure that network tariffs and regulations incentivise improvements in energy efficiency. The Energy Efficiency Directive emphasizes overall efficiency (incl. energy efficiency). This should also be the main guideline in this CEER work. It should be noted that there are also market models where DSOs send their own separate bills AND market models where DSO formulates the bill and supplier forwards it to customer transparently as it is. Thus, the statement on page 34 In all circumstances, this tariff would be billed to the supplier who must then decide how it reflects this in the end bill to the customer, is not true. 17. YES NO a. Are there circumstances under which suppliers should be required to pass through the distribution tariff signal to customers? We strongly favor increased transparency that allows consumers to have a better understanding of what is included in their bill. To raise customers awareness on what they pay for, we prefer more transparency on what goes into customers bills. YES NO b. If you answered yes to 17a, should there be regulation to ensure this happens? In the Finnish retail market customers can in some cases get a separate bill from DSO and from supplier. In a single bill model, where supplier also bills the network tariff, bills need to be transparent. In current Finnish regulation, the amount of network tariff has to be show on the bill (also on the single bill provided by the supplier). 9

10 18. Do you agree with the assessment of different cases when DSOs or other parties should have contracts or agreements with consumers and distributed generators? Categories of DSO activities: Core areas I. Core activity Grey areas II. Activity allowed under conditions (no potential competition) III. Activity allowed under conditions (potential competition, but special reason justifying DSO participation) IV. Activity not allowed (potential competition and no special reason justifying DSO participation) Forbidden V. Activity forbidden (existing activity where competition exists) DIS Contractual DSR relationships for a DSO: The idea or contracting DSR in the connection agreement seems difficult since (depending on the market model) the connection agreement customer is not necessarily the same party living/using the building/consumption site (e.g. owner vs. tenant). This could create complexity. At least in Finland, customers normally have a separate network service contract in addition to connection contract. This network service contract seems like to right place to agree on DSR issues as well. In this case there is no need for the DSO to have separate additional commercial DSR contracts with the customer. The necessary issues can be agreed on in the network service contract. In some rare cases fulfilling the strict requirements defined in the DSO s network service contract, for example in a case of a power shortage, the DSO can manage customers loads directly. In a grave national power shortage the TSO (Fingrid) will demand power cuts from the DSOs. These will be 10

11 carried out either by cutting electricity from all inhabitants of a certain area or by using load management. Such grave shortages have not occurred in a long time. The DSO has, according to the terms of contract, also the right to temporarily disconnect the network service, if it is necessary for maintenance, adjustment work, inspections, troubleshooting or other similar reason necessary for upholding the distribution system. If the DSO needs demand response in circumstances other than the previously mentioned cases defined in the terms of contract, e.g. if the DSO uses demand response in the active management2 of their own network, the DSO has to buy the demand response from market actors, not directly from the customers. It is stated (page 35) that it seems reasonable that DSOs should be able to procure DSR from these customers via the connection agreement, particularly if it helps reduce the connection cost or time to connect for the customer. We see that this could probably be done only by agreeing to a smaller main fuse (peak power limit) in the connection agreement. Or is there other solutions in mind? It is stated (page 36) that CEER has made a distinction between existing domestic customers (who are unlikely to know who their DSO is) and larger commercial customers and generators who may already have a technical agreement with the DSO. This is not true at least in Finland. In Finland also domestic customers are usually aware of their DSO, especially in rural areas. Table 2 (page 37) In Finland customers have separate connection agreement (between owner of building and DSO) and network service agreement (between electricity user and DSO). Thus, this table doesn t apply to assessing the situation in Finland. In column 2 Additional and commercial DSR contract DSO-Customer we see that correct category for all cells is III also in countries where DSOs are responsible for data management if seen suitable for the national market model. 19. Which type of regulatory controls should be adopted by NRAs for DSOs, in cases of contractual arrangements falling under categories II and III? Proper implementation of existing EU legislation (the Second and the Third Energy Packages) is key in order to allow DSOs to contract for DSR. Overregulation should be avoided not to put in place additional barrier to innovation in this area. 11

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