Discussion Papers

Andreas Hense, Daniel Schäffner

Regulatorische Aufgaben im Energiebereich – ein europäischer Vergleich
Nr. 254 / Juni 2004


The fields of generation and supply in the energy sector are competitive, while high-voltage transmission and regional distribution represent monopolistic bottlenecks, at least in the electricity sector. From an economic point of view, these sectors have to be regulated in order to discipline the market power of the electricity network operators.

In this context the European Union issued Directives for the domestic market of electricity and gas, which have to be converted into national right by July 2004. Among other things, they provide guidelines for the regulation of the European energy markets and exclude the possibility of a negotiated Third Party Access (nTPA) to the networks which was possible beforehand. They explicitly prescribe the installation of regulatory authorities, which regulate ex-ante the tariffs and further conditions for the network access in the energy markets. The German special agreement, which is based on a nTPA in the so called "Verbändevereinbarung" and an ex-post control concerning the abuse of market power by the Federal Cartel Agency will thus thereby be excluded in the future.

Against this background, we compare the regulation regimes of the energy market in selected European countries (Great Britain, Norway, Finland, Spain and Austria). The focus lies thereby on the description of the regulation regime of the national electricity markets, which are already opened to 100% for competition in all analysed countries.

The comparison between the countries shows that the ex-ante-regulation of the network access charges represents the prevailing approach in the electricity market, as it is also prescribed by the Directive. Germany and Finland must adapt their ex-post oriented regulation regime for the regulation of the network access in order to meet the given minimum standard. Most countries we regarded promote the change from a Rate-of-Return regulation to an incentive-oriented regulation regime of the network charges. Traditional cost-oriented methods are becoming less important. In England, Wales and Norway positive experiences with the introduction of a Price Cap and/or Revenue Cap regulation have been made. England and Wales as well as Scandinavia are the European regions with the longest experience in the liberalisation of the electricity market. The regulation regimes which have been introduced in these countries provide a legal unbundling of a formerly integrated structure of the energy industry. The additional application of benchmarking methods is commonly made or intended by the regulators. Thus an individual specification can be made for the network operators, so that they are regulated at the respective efficiency level of comparable companies.

However, the longtime experiences of countries with regulation regimes point out that apart from incentives for efficient networks - which is the result e.g. of benchmarking methods - the promotion of necessary investments should not be neglected, in order to also ensure a reliable supply of electricity in the future. In this context it has to be referred to the regulation of the supply quality as supplementing instrument. [Only German language version available.]

Diskussion Paper is available for download.

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