The Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM) finds it important that, when granting access to the grid, system operators prioritize projects that help solve grid congestion. In addition, projects that contribute towards important social objectives such as security, health care, housing, education, and sustainability will also be able to be prioritized. In order to enable system operators to prioritize projects with a social function, ACM has drawn up a prioritization framework together with the Association of Netherlands Municipalities (VNG), the Association of Provincial Authorities (IPO), the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK), and the trade association of system operators Netbeheer Nederland (NBNL). ACM has published this prioritization framework on its website for public consultation, and has invited all interested parties to submit their opinions.
Prioritizing projects with a social function by system operators must ensure that the scarce transport capacity is allocated as efficiently as possible for as long as those system operators need for upgrading the grids. However, the prioritization framework does not mean that system operators are no longer required to upgrade their grids or to make sure that everyone seeking access to the grid is given access as swiftly as possible. ACM will oversee this entire process.
At the moment, system operators grant projects access to the grid on the basis of ‘first come, first serve’. This principle works well when there is sufficient capacity and all projects are able to get access. However, demand for transport capacity has gone up quite rapidly in recent months, and system operators are unable to upgrade the grid fast enough due to permit procedures and staff shortages. As a result, many areas suffer from transport capacity shortages, and projects wait for a long time until they are granted access to the grid. ACM finds it important that, in such areas, the scarce transport capacity is allocated in a socially-acceptable manner. That is why ACM has given system operators the opportunity to prioritize projects with a social function. These involve projects that help solve grid congestion (thereby creating more room for other projects), and projects that contribute towards important social objectives such as security, health care, housing, education, and sustainability. In addition, businesses that contribute towards climate goals and sustainability (either on a large scale or above the statutory standards) and that have made binding arrangements with the government are able to be prioritized. Giving system operators the opportunity to prioritize projects with a social function is also high on the wish list of participants in the National Grid Congestion Action Program (in Dutch: Landelijk Actieprogramma Netcongestie, or LAN).
The way in which system operators can prioritize has been fleshed out in the draft code amendment decision on prioritization opportunities in connection with transport requests (in Dutch: ontwerp codewijzigingsbesluit prioriteringsruimte bij transportverzoeken) and in the accompanying prioritization framework. The basic principle is that system operators prioritize on the basis of objective and transparent criteria, and that they act in accordance with the (European) non-discrimination principle. In that context, it is also important that those requesting priority are able to demonstrate that they genuinely require transport capacity for the proper execution of their public or social function.
ACM finds it important that the prioritization framework that is included in the final code amendment decision enjoys broad support. That is why ACM has drawn up several consultation questions, which are published alongside this draft decision. In the consultation, ACM draws special attention to several subjects, and invites everyone to submit opinions. The consultation ends on October 5, 2023. After this deadline, ACM will process all of the opinions it has received, and subsequently publish a definitive decision.
The draft code amendment decision does not offer system operators any legal basis for reserving capacity for future transport requests filed by market participants that serve major general interests. ACM understands from local governments that there is a desire to allow this. That is why, in consultation with VNG, IPO, EZK, and NBNL, it has been agreed to further assess the desirability and feasibility of transport capacity reservations. ACM finds it important that all relevant organizations / stakeholders are involved in these conversations.
- 13-07-2023 Draft code amendment decision on prioritization opportunities in connection with transport requests (in Dutch)
- 02-03-2023 ACM makes it possible for system operators to prioritize projects with a social function | ACM.nl
- 03-03-2022 ACM to explore the opportunities to prioritize sustainable projects | ACM.nl
National Grid Congestion Action Program (in Dutch)