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The Winter Package and the Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER)

An agency with ‘lots of power’ and no teeth?

Portrettbilde av Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui
Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui
Photo:
Dragefjellet Lærings- og Formidlingssenter

The Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) and the Winter Package has been the centre of a heated debate in Norwegian media lately. On March 6 as part of the Bergen Energy Lab lunch seminars, Ignacio Herrera Anchustegui spoke about the content of the new proposal, what kind of powers ACER could have in the future, what it means for the future of energy, and the impact of such decisions for both the EU and for Norway.

The Agency for Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) was established in the EU in 2009 as a part of the ‘Third Energy Package’, a set of rules enacted in the EU that aim to create a single EU gas and electricity market. Norway is already a part of the second energy package, but is currently discussing the contents of the third one, particularly the establishment of ACER.

ACER’s current role is to help the cooperation between different national regulators, enhance competition, review network development plans and monitor the functioning of the internal market including work to secure fair retail power prices. The Agency can also take binding individual decisions in specific cases and under certain conditions on cross-border infrastructure issues.

In the EU Commission’s Winter Package from 2016, currently being negotiated, the EU seeks to further develop the Energy Union, which aims to create a common energy market for the EU, to improve security of supply, promote renewables and to reach ambitious climate targets. Among many other measures, it also proposes to grant further competences to ACER. This includes a strengthening of ACER’s power regarding decision making on cross-border issues, monitoring national market’s performance, wholesale market supervision and a stronger role in developing network codes.

These proposed rules which are likely to be adopted in the EU in the second half of 2018 will shape the energy future in Europe and Norway. While they do not radically change the current regime, the rules will have an impact on how and what kind of energy is produced, the way that it is transported, the role of end consumers and, particularly, a stronger focus concerning renewable sources.  What seems clear is that the energy future in Europe looks more and more green and electric.

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