Regulators met with representatives of EU Member States, the European Commission and gas industry at the 24th European Gas Regulatory Forum (Madrid Forum) to discuss a range of gas issues including gas in the future EU energy mix, regulatory aspects of market design, EU network codes, the EU Gas Target Model, and the future role of Distribution System Operators. CEER presented interim results of its storage analysis. It seeks to understand why less gas storage capacity was booked last year and the effects of changing storage usage on security of supply. Click here to view this (and 2 other) CEER presentation(s). See also the CEER press release.
See the International Section below for the Women in Energy initiative just launched by the International Confederation of Energy Regulators. This initiative aims to help the career advancement of women in energy through practical tools like e-mentoring, webinars and a global collaborative network for the benefit of women in regulation. For videos, an infographic and more see the ICER Women in Energy section of the ICER website.
The feature article this month is on the working relations between national regulatory authorities (NRAs) and national consumer organisations.
Energy regulatory authorities and consumer bodies in tandem
CEER’s out-reach to consumer bodies Customers have long been a central aspect of CEER’s work, with a dedicated working group on customer and retail market issues addressing key deliverables. In our 2012 and 2013 work programmes, CEER has placed a new and stronger focus on customers across all horizontal areas of CEER’s work. We also really reached out to better involve consumer organisations in our efforts to place consumers at the heart of EU energy policy. CEER declared 2012 the “year of customers‟ among its members. A new customer section of the website was developed, Citizen Q&A memos began to accompany each technical CEER paper and we organised our first annual customer conference (now an annual event). With 37 representatives from national consumer bodies attending this event, we succeeded in engaging consumer bodies in the process of drafting a 2020 customer vision. The result was the CEER-BEUC 2020 Vision for Europe’s energy customers.
Energy regulators - leading by good example The 2020 Energy Customer Vision is not simply energy regulators’ vision. We teamed up with BEUC, the EU Consumers Organisation, and “own” it together. The CEER-BEUC vision won the support of the 2012 Citizen’s Energy Forum (London Forum) and appears as an annex to its conclusion. Leading by example, CEER presented a rolling 3-year Action Plan of what CEER will do to help make the vision a reality. The CEER-BEUC Vision is widely endorsed by energy stakeholders, and the focus of our customer conference this year was on activities undertaken or planned by energy stakeholders to implement the Vision.
Regulators efforts of working closely with consumer bodies have not gone unnoticed. Earlier this year, at their European Consumer Summit (18-19 March), the European Commission showcased energy as a good example (for other sectors) of cooperation between consumer bodies and regulators with a dedicated workshop “Enforcement in tandem – effective enforcement in the energy sector”.
Involving national consumer bodies in the regulatory process Now, CEER has published its Status Review on the involvement of consumer organisations in the regulatory process. This is the result of a thorough investigation of working relations between energy NRAs and consumer organisations. The analysis is based on information received from both NRAs and members of the European consumers' organisation BEUC. Consequently, the analysis is the result of strong collaboration between the two institutions and highlights the effectiveness of such a partnership.
It examines the type of contact and working arrangements between NRAs and consumer organisations, the issues on which they collaborate, and includes suggestions on the functioning/improvement of working relations between NRAs and consumer organisations
Main Findings - Close relationships exist between energy NRAs and consumer organisations, with direct contact between NRAs and consumer organisations in nearly all examined countries. - Such collaboration is largely based on voluntary initiatives, mutual collaborative efforts and involves regularly exchanging each other’s findings on how the national energy markets are performing for consumers and where improvements are needed. - Working arrangements between NRAs and consumer organisations range from regular working group meetings to participation in public consultations and exchanging research and data. - Consumer organisations are rarely part of the NRA’s organisational structure and, thus, generally do not directly take part in the NRA’s decision making process (with the exception of very few cases). - NRAs and consumer organisations collaborate on a wide range of specific issues including information campaigns, complaint handling and dispute resolution. - Information exchange is still predominantly performed with a view to enhance each other’s individual activities rather than for the purpose of creating visible joint outcomes.
What’s next? The results of our findings on the involvement of consumer organisations in the regulatory process will be discussed at the 2013 London Forum in December. As part of our 2014 Work programme, CEER will develop advice for NRAs on how to work more closely with consumer organisations and other consumer representation to make customers' perception and experience a key driver of regulation.
CEER was one of 12 regional associations of energy regulators worldwide, who under the umbrella of the International Confederation of Energy Regulators, have launched a global initiative for regulatory staff to aid the career advancement of Women in Energy. Click here to watch the ICER e-mentoring programme for regulators. As well as providing practical tools (mentoring, training, networking), the ICER WIE initiative also seek to change attitudes and culture.