Energy updates in Romania: further steps towards ensuring transparency on grid connection capacities
The National Authority for Energy Regulation (ANRE) took an important step towards ensuring a more transparent grid connection procedure for energy producers, through the adoption of the Order no. 137/2021 for approving the Procedure for determining the available electrical grid connection capacities for connecting new electricity production installations (Order 137), published in the Official Gazette of Romania, Part I, no. 1 from 3 January 2022. Although the provisions of Order 137 indicate that it shall enter into force starting with 1 March 2022, the scope and implementation schedule of the procedure included therein may require the transport and system operator, CNTEE Transelectrica S.A. (TSO), as well as distribution grid operators, to begin taking steps towards its implementation much sooner, with some preliminary steps having already been taken, as further detailed below.
The main scope of the Procedure approved through Order 137 is to impose an obligation on the TSO to determine the available grid connection capacities on the electricity transport grid, as well as on the local distribution grids at 110 kV voltage. Thus, the TSO shall have the responsibility (i) to determine the available grid connection capacity on the electricity transport grid, for each grid area, and (ii) to determine the available grid connection capacity on the electricity distribution grid, separate for all areas operated under concession by the various distribution grid operators, for each zone of the grid at the 110 kV voltage. In relation to the latter, all operators of electricity distribution grids shall also have the obligation to communicate to the TSO all data and information concerning the 110 kV electricity distribution grid, relevant for the TSO for determining the available connection capacities.
The obligation of the TSO should materialize in the publication of the information concerning available grid connection capacities, on its website, in an interactive, intuitive, clear and easily accessible manner. We note that the TSO has already taken the first steps towards the implementation of such a transparency mechanism even before the adoption by ANRE of Order 137, as an interactive map of available grid connection capacities was published on the TSO’s website since the middle of December 2021. However, this is only one step towards observing the requirements established under the Procedure approved through Order 137, as the degree of detail concerning the analysis of available capacities is expected to be further enhanced.
The Procedure approved through Order 137 also establishes certain rights in favor of electricity producers, who may further rely on the grid connection availability information, to be published by the TSO, in order to communicate a request addressed to the TSO and/or the relevant distribution grid operator, requesting information regarding the conditions and possibilities of connecting a new production capacity to the grid. However, such a right is not new and it exists as regulated under the Regulation for connection of users to the public interest electricity grid, approved through ANRE Order 59/2013, in a similar format and with the same deadline for response by the relevant grid operator, respectively 15 calendar days.
Following the internal procedures of the TSO and communications with the distribution grid operators, the schedule for implementation of the new transparency measures starts from 1 April 2022 this being the date for first publication on the TSO’s website of the available capacities. From this date until 1 July 2022, the information shall be updated on a monthly basis, while from 1 July to 1 October 2022 it shall be updated twice a month. Finally, starting with 1 October 2022, the TSO will update the information regarding available grid connection capacities on a weekly basis (every Monday).