On 18 August 2011, changes to the Czech Energy Act reflecting the requirements of the Third EU Energy Package will come into force.

Key changes include:

General

  • New provisions to strengthen customer protection, such as enabling customers to change suppliers if conditions or prices of electricity or gas supplies have been altered by the supplier, and requiring suppliers to provide customers with certain information.
  • Stronger powers and duties given to the Energy Regulatory Office (the national energy regulator) to certify the independence of the transmission and distribution system operators and to protect customers’ rights.
  • A requirement for participants in the electricity and gas market, who are payers of the market operator clearance price, to pay a special fee to the Energy Regulatory Office operation at the rate of 2 CZK/MWh for electricity and 1 CZK/MWh for gas.

Electricity sector

  • Electricity transmission system operators (CEPS) must be separated proprietarily and structurally from electricity and gas production and supply activities.
  • Operators of electricity generating power plants with an output of over 100 kW must equip them with devices allowing for the “dispatching operation” of the facility by the grid operator. Facilities with outputs of 2 MW and above must be equipped with the devices by 30 June 2012 and facilities with an output of over 100 kW by 30 June 2013.
  • “Dispatching operation” devices do not need to be installed by operators of renewable energy power plants put into operation before 2000 and with an output of up to 10 MW and small water power plants with an output of up to 10 MW.
  • The transmission (CEPS) and distribution (CEZ, E.ON, PRE) system operators may temporarily limit electricity generation from the power plants (to a necessary extent) if the safe and reliable operation of the transmission or distribution system is endangered. The operators must compensate the plant owner for any loss arising from the limitation of renewable sources electricity production. Compensation shall equal the income (after deducting expenses for non-generated electricity) they would have received if generation had not been limited. The Energy Regulatory Office will decide any disputes over compensation between plant owners and grid operators.
  • The Ministry of Industry and Trade will decide in each case whether or not to authorise the construction of electricity generating power plants with an output of over 1 MW, apart from projects where the zoning proceedings were initiated before 18 August 2011.

Gas sector

  • In order to ensure the independence of gas transmission system operators that are part of vertically integrated gas undertakings: (a) consent of the Energy Regulatory Office is required to the appointment or dismissal of any member of the board of directors or supervisory board and to the conclusion of any agreement setting out conditions for the performance of their office (b) no other members of the vertically integrated gas undertaking involved in gas production or supply activities may hold any shares in the gas transmission system operator; nor can the gas transmission system operator hold any shares, directly or indirectly, in any company involved in gas production or supply activities (c) business contracts concluded between the gas transmission system operator and other members of the vertically integrated gas undertaking must be approved by the Energy Regulatory Office (d) the Energy Regulatory Office can order the gas transmission system operator to realize an investment in the transmission system where this was envisaged in the 10-year distribution system development plan
  • Gas transmission system operators that are not members of vertically integrated gas undertaking must be separated proprietarily and structurally from electricity and gas production and supply activities.
  • Gas storage operators that are members of vertically integrated gas undertaking must be independent, in terms of their legal form, organisation and decision making, of any activities other than gas transmission, storage and distribution. Proprietary separation is not required.
  • The Energy Regulatory Office can limit, for a finite period, the right of access to newly built international interconnectors and gas storage facilities or, where there is a substantial increase in transport or storage capacity, to those already in operation.