Energy regulators' work & COVID-19
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has had important economic and social repercussions across the globe that also impacted the energy sector. As an immediate response in March 2020, CEER Members decided to establish an ad hoc working group, chaired by CEER Vice-President Jean-Laurent Lastelle, to exchange best practices in these unprecedented times. In other words, the group focuses on assessing how the energy sector was affected by this pandemic, as well as the steps that governments, regulators, and others in the energy sector took in response to this crisis. 

 

On 29 March 2021, the working group published its First Analysis of the COVID-19 Pandemic’s Effects on the Energy Sector. This interim report seeks to highlight the pandemic’s impact on the energy market as a whole and on energy companies in particular. Furthermore, it summarises the approaches national regulatory authorities from 28 participating countries took to protect energy customers during these extraordinary times.

The report was presented at CEER’s Annual Conference on 30 March 2021 as well as at the 9th Eastern Partnership Workshop on 29 April 2021.

One of the main findings of this report is that the energy sector demonstrated its resilience throughout the pandemic. Energy demand and market prices receded in several countries but the system as such continued operating. To protect consumers in a context of business closures and income losses, the majority of jurisdictions made sure that consumers would not be disconnected in the case of unpaid energy bills. Moreover, governments agreed on providing other support to households and businesses, which in most cases did not directly target the energy sector. At the time the report was released, the pandemic’s impact on energy suppliers and network operators was not fully clear yet, notably in terms of unpaid bills and loss in tariff revenue. In the chapter “Lessons learnt and good practices”, energy national regulatory authorities (NRAs) flagged the importance of a swift and complete exchange of information with all stakeholders (government, network operators etc.) and the acceleration of digitalisation and remote operations in the energy sector to tackle the crisis. Furthermore, they highlighted the moratorium on disconnections as the most effective measure to support consumers throughout the crisis.

The ad hoc working group's next report on the pandemic's impact on the energy market as a whole and on energy companies in particular is expected to be published in December 2021.

If you have more questions on regulators' work on this issue, please do not hesitate to get in touch: brussels@ceer.eu