Powers

Main points

Under the provisions of the Code of energy, which clarified the European directives concerning the European Internal Market of electricity and gas, CRE has powers which are traditionally devolved for independent administrative authorities responsible for regulating a market or a sector open to competition characterised by the presence of public operators:

  • Powers of decision, approval or authorisation (system operators, contribution to the public electricity service, etc.)
  • Dispute settlement and sanctions relative to access to the electricity and gas networks (CoRDiS)
  • Powers of proposal (tariffs for the use of public electricity grids, contribution to the public electricity service, etc.)
  • Information and investigative powers with stakeholders
  • Advisory powers (tariffs,  regulated access to incumbent nuclear electricity, etc.)
  • Additional power (processing of tenders for electricity generation)

Powers of decision, approval or authorisation

The powers of CRE concern, first and foremost, the regulation of networks. In fact, CRE ensures the proper functioning and development of electricity and natural gas networks and infrastructure. In order to achieve this task, CRE annually approves investment programs from public electricity transmission system operators and natural gas transmission system operators, it grants temporary exemptions to operators that have been authorised to supply natural gas when they encounter serious economic and financial difficulties due to long-term contractual commitments, allowing them to refuse to enter, under certain conditions, a contract for access to transmission and distribution of natural gas or liquefied natural gas facilities.

CRE is also responsible for the independence of network operators, therefore it has powers in the area of account unbundling of integrated operators' activities by approving the settlement rules, boundaries and principles of account unbundling.

In the electricity sector, CRE calculates the public service charges for electricity and can exercise control over the appropriate accounts to be kept by operators, if necessary through an independent body.

As part of a regulatory "auxiliary" authority provided for in Articles L 134-1 and L 134-2 of the Code of energy, CRE has the power in the electricity and gas sectors to take regulatory decisions regarding:

  • the missions of electricity and gas network operators (transmission and distribution) regarding exploitation and development of networks as well as those of the operators of liquefied natural gas facilities and those of the operators of underground storage of natural gas;
  • conditions of connection to electricity and natural gas networks;
  • conditions of access and use of electricity and gas networks, as well as use of liquefied natural gas facilities;
  • implementation and adjustment of appeal programs, supply and consumption and the financial compensation for differences in terms of electricity;
  • contracts or purchase protocols for losses or the reservation of power of the electricity transmission system operator and contracts or purchase protocols for gas required for the operation of gas networks and liquefied natural gas facilities;
  • the principles of account separation;
  • the method of identification of costs referred to in Article VII of the L 337-14 of the Code of energy;
  • regarding electricity, the rules of calculation and adjustment of the rights of suppliers to regulated access to incumbent nuclear electricity.

The decree of 23 December 2006, approving the specifications of the concession of the public transmission electricity grids, also gives CRE the following authority:

  • approval of procedures for handling requests for connection to the public transmission network, of users' facilities and public distribution grids and the possibility to revise these procedures;
  • approval of model contracts for network access;
  • determining the terms of meter information exchange between the public distribution system operators and the concessionary (in the absence of these rules being fixed by the concessionary and public distribution system operators);
  • approval of rules for calculating the total transfer capacity and transmission reliability margin of interconnections and approval of rules for allocating interconnection capacity.

Dispute Settlement

CRE can be referred to by the parties concerned (except non-eligible customers) for any dispute concerning access to public electricity transmission or distribution networks, to transmission or distribution of natural gas and to liquefied natural gas facilities, or natural gas storage, and finally, between the operators and users of transportation facilities and geological storage of carbon dioxide, linked to the access to the aforementioned services, facilities and installations or to their use in accordance with Articles L 134-19 to L 134-24 of the Code of energy.

These powers are exercised by the Committee for dispute settlement and sanctions (CoRDiS) established by the law of 7 December 2006. After inter partes investigation, CoRDiS  makes a decision to resolve disputes in principle within two months, this time can be extended to four months if the committee deems it necessary. At the same time a request for provisional measures can be made. Its decisions may be appealed at the Court of Appeal of Paris, which may order a stay of execution.

Sanctioning powers

Organisation of CoRDiS :
To find out more about CoRDiS,  click here

The devolved powers of CRE under Articles L 134-25 to L 134-34 of the Code of energy are exercised by CoRDis. CoRDis, after an adversarial proceeding leading to a formal ultimatum, may be required to impose sanctions for violations of legislative rules, or non-compliance with the decisions of CRE, relative to:

  • access or use of public electricity transmission networks, transmission and distribution facilities of natural gas, of natural gas storage facilities or liquefied natural gas facilities;
  • the principles of account unbundling;
  • rules for the availability of accounting;
  • in cases of abuse of the right to regulated access to incumbent nuclear electricity or hindrance to the exercise of this right.

CRE can also impose sanctions without prior notice, in case of non-compliance with its dispute settlement decisions.

Two types of sanctions can be expected when those concerned do not meet the time restraints of this ultimatum:

  • a temporary ban from access to electricity networks or natural gas structures or facilities for a period not exceeding one year;
  • a financial penalty if the facts in question do not constitute a criminal offense, equal to, depending on the circumstances, not more than 8% of the turnover of the offender (increased to 10% in case of further breach of that obligation). In the absence of any activity to determine this limit, the amount of the penalty may not exceed  €150,000, increased to €375,000 in case of a further breach of that obligation. Finally, the penalty imposed by the commission is limited so that the aggregate amount does not exceed the greater of one of the penalties in case of an overlap of administrative sanctions.

Sanction decisions may be appealed at the Council of State, acting as a first and last resort, and an application for a stay of execution can be made. If the penalty is monetary, the action on the merits, however, has a suspensive right.

Powers of proposal

CRE has, in certain matters, a power of proposal, particularly with regard to:

  • tariffs for the use of public electricity grids and related services provided under the monopoly of the operators of these networks as well as those of natural gas networks and liquefied natural gas facilities;
  • regarding the public electricity service, the annual charges attributable to public service missions, the amount of the contribution applicable to each kilowatt-hour and the amount of repayments received by operators supporting public service charges;
  • the necessary precautionary measures to ensure the safety and security of public electricity grids and ensure the quality of their operation.

CRE publishes an annual report on the obedience to compliance programmes by electricity and gas transmission and distribution system operators, and an assessment of their independence. It proposes, as appropriate, measures to ensure the independence of these operators.

Information and investigative powers

CRE has a right of access to information held by industry stakeholders that it regulates and which are necessary for it fulfil its tasks:

  • public electricity transmission and distribution operators
  • operators of natural gas transmission or distribution facilities
  • operators of liquefied natural gas facilities
  • providers for consumers on the continental mainland benefitting from regulated access to incumbent nuclear electricity
  • operators of transmission and geological storage of carbon dioxide
  • other companies operating in the electricity or natural gas markets, or in the capture, transmission and geological storage of carbon dioxide
  • administrations.

It can also open investigations conducted by authorised agents, who may collect information on site in conditions that respect the adversarial principle and, in some cases, after authorisation from the judicial judge.

Advisory powers

CRE is referred to for an aopinion on many draft decrees or orders:

  • either express terms (tariffs, conditions of purchase of electricity falling under purchase obligations, price and overall maximum volume of nuclear power allowed to be used, the specifications for the public transmission system operator, development plan of the public electricity transmission network, denial of direct lines, exemptions from tariffs and trade conditions for the use of liquefied natural gas facilities, tariff for the contribution for the financing of pension funds of the electricity and gas agents...);
  • or by general terms (verdicts on all texts relating to the access or use of public electricity grids, or liquefied natural gas facilities).

In addition, CRE is consulted by the Minister of Energy when he receives a request for temporary exemption from the obligations of third party access to a liquefied natural gas facility or natural gas storage facility or an interconnection facility with a network of gas transmission located within the territory of another Member State of the European Union.

Additional powers to those of the Minister

Concerning electricity production, CRE provides instruction for the tenders destined for implementation of the multiannual investments into production. However, the decision to proceed with the tender rests with the Minister of Energy. The development and implementation of the specifications is the responsibility of CRE. It sorts the results and gives a reasoned verdict on the offers to retain. The Minister then appoints one or more candidates.

In the same rubric :

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