The Council of European Energy Regulators (CEER) just published its 4th Benchmarking Report on the Quality of Electricity Supply. It deals with three types of electricity quality: the speed and accuracy with which electricity customer requests are handled (commercial quality); the availability of electricity (continuity); and its technical properties (voltage quality).
Lord Mogg, CEER President, said, “In order to ensure that quality is not compromised as electricity companies seek to cut costs, more and more regulators have introduced electricity quality incentive/penalty regimes.”
Guaranteed Standards or else “your money back” work best
“Commercial quality” relates to the customer service provided by Distribution System Operators (DSOs) and/or electricity suppliers, such as the response time for solving billing complaints. Commercial quality standards exist in several countries for (1) connection; (2) customer care; (3) technical service; and (4) metering and billing.
Many regulators set “Guaranteed Standards” (GS) for electricity DSOs whereby the company has to pay compensation to the electricity customer if it does not meet the customer service standards set by the regulator. The most frequently applied standards are aimed at supply availability, such as restoring supply as fast as possible after a disconnection due to a non-payment. In addition, regulators can also issue financial penalties through “Other Available Requirements” (OARs), which set minimum standards to be applied by DSOs and suppliers.
Lord Mogg stated: “Money-back Guaranteed Standards or setting minimum requirements where the regulator can impose a sanction are the best tools for ensuring proper customer service. GSs allow customers to get money back from their electricity company if it doesn’t provide an adequate service. CEER has benchmarked the quality of electricity supply and service across Europe. Now we will work with consumer associations to make sure that electricity consumers are aware of their entitlements. For example, in Hungary, a householder can claim €20 compensation if the distribution company doesn’t keep its appointment within 4 hours of the agreed time, whereas in Italy it is €30 within 3 hours.”
Unplanned electricity supply interruptions are falling in Europe
The report shows that the continuity of supply is improving, with customer minutes lost per year decreasing almost continuously since 2002, and the number of unplanned interruptions (excluding exceptional events) stabilising. CEER is working with CENELEC6 to develop harmonised continuity indicators, so as to improve the effectiveness of monitoring schemes, which already exist in at least 21 countries.
Lord Mogg stated “For regulators to set continuity standards firstly requires robust and reliable data. This we now have, allowing us to monitor supply availability. The fewer the interruptions and the shorter they are, the better for Europe’s consumers and businesses.”
Europe’s voltage quality standard needs to be improved
Lord Mogg stated “Dips or swings in voltage can cause severe problems for customers and can carry heavy costs for businesses. It is necessary to have an appropriate voltage quality standard. CEER is not satisfied with the current European norms for voltage quality. Thus, we have been cooperating with CENELEC on the revision of the current standard (EN 50160) in a way which adequately meets consumers’ needs.”Log in to post comments