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Europe’s regulators call for ‘fair’ decentralized energy policy

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Europe’s lawmakers must shape the right policy framework for energy self-consumers and community energy projects, the Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER) has said.

In a White Paper on Renewable Self-Consumers and Energy Communities, CEER set out its core principles designed to protect “the rights of all consumers” in a changing energy landscape.

Among the recommendations were that consumers should be able to switch energy suppliers within 24 hours; that priority dispatch for existing renewables should be removed, with renewables fully integrated into the wholesale energy market; that net metering of self-generation should be avoided, with cost-reflective network tariffs used instead; and that rules which apply to power generators and suppliers should also apply to self-generators and community energy projects – for example, energy communities that operate as Distribution System Operator (DSO) should be regulated as a DSO.  

"It is paramount that consumer rights are not undermined in the context of these new structures and roles in the energy sector," CEER said in its report. "In particular, participation in local energy communities should be strictly voluntary; shareholders/members of local energy communities must not lose their rights as household or active customers, including the right to leave the local energy community and thereby switch suppliers quickly; and legal responsibility must remain with such communities even when management is delegated to a third party." 

CEER president Lord Mogg said the regulators “welcome the choice and consumer empowerment opportunities of renewable self-consumption and energy communities. However, consumer rights such as the right to join a local energy community or leave it to switch supplier must also be ensured.”

And, according to CEER, “self-consumers usually rely on the energy network for electricity delivery, whenever their consumption exceeds self-generation. Therefore, they should face network tariffs which are cost-reflective in the same manner as consumers that exclusively rely on the network for their energy supply.

“Net metering is a regulatory framework under which the excess electricity injected into the grid can be used at a later time to offset consumption during times when their on-site renewable generation is absent or not sufficient. In other words, under this scheme, consumers use the grid as a backup system for their excess power production.

“Net metering should be avoided as it implies that system storage capacity is available for free.”

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