New ‘DSO entity’ will underpin Europe-wide standards, but UK will be a rule taker

The UK is likely to have ‘associate’ status after Brexit in a new EU ‘DSO entity’ bringing together the bloc’s 2,400 distribution system operators.

The new entity will be set up over the next two years and its first tasks will be to develop network codes, improve cyber security and develop network planning.

Talking about the new organisation at the Eurelectric annual summit , Paul de Wit, senior advisor on regulatory affairs at Alliander, told New Power the new association would be good for consumers because it would develop common standards and technical rules. That was necessary for developments like one-day switching, or new opportunities like using the same EV charge supplier across Europe, or paying your home supplier for power used elsewhere.

De Wit said the Third Energy Package called for transmission network owner entities to be defined and write codes for cross-border trades. “But it became clear that you cannot write code for just one part of the system, it has to cover all of it.”  Various DSOs are served by four lobby groups already and the new entity will be purely technical. “It’s a no small feat to come up with a single voice for an organisation with 2400 members of different sizes,” said de Wit. 

The Clean Energy Package requires three network codes, for flexibility, cyber security and data interoperability. Alongside is new code and guidelines that will facilitate the entry of new renewable sources and help grow demand-side flexibility and user access to markets.

Every DSO from the European Union can become a formal member of the new group but it is likely that the UK will be in an “associate member” category. De Wit said that was, “because of the fundamental rule that you cannot decide on rules that you don’t apply.” But he commented that, “you need to be aware of the rules to see where the electricity business is going.”

Meanwhile, it not entirely clear is which organisations qualify as DSOs. A case currently at the European Court asks, with regard to a Bulgarian network, whether “the voltage is the sole criterion by which the distribution system is distinguished from the transmission system,” or whether there may be additional or alternative criteria.