Illustrative photo – Ministry of Industry and Trade in Prague on March 31, 2020.
Prague – Czechs will be able to establish energy communities to share locally produced electricity. Sharing will be possible through the distribution network. It should be possible from the beginning of next year. The draft amendment to the Energy Act, which was completed by the Ministry of Industry and Trade (MPO), takes this into account. The amendment also redefines the so-called vulnerable customer, who will have special protection in the event of possible disconnection from the supply. The proposal should now be dealt with by the government.
The amendment follows on from previous changes that responded to problems on the energy market and were intended to facilitate the use of renewable energy sources. The proposal therefore introduces energy and renewable energy communities as new market participants. The basis of these communities, which will become a legal entity, will be the joint production of energy, for example by solar or wind power plants, and its subsequent sharing among its members. Typically, this will be, for example, energy sharing between households or different communities, such as municipalities, schools, offices or businesses.
According to the Ministry, the administrative anchoring of energy communities and their action on the energy market should facilitate the implementation of community projects for the production and sharing of energy. For example, the proposal envisages the installation of continuous consumption measurement or the creation of a system that will be able to evaluate production and consumption at a given moment and the subsequent sharing of electricity. These outputs will then be provided by the community to the trader as a basis for billing.
Another innovation in the proposal is the definition of the so-called vulnerable customer. It should especially protect customers with a defined medical handicap. For them, the proposal introduces selected protective measures in the event of energy supply problems.
The ministry submitted the first proposal last fall, when it was included in the interdepartmental comment procedure. At the time, community energy advocates criticized the proposal as giving energy traders the ability to prevent communities from functioning effectively. According to them, this has now changed after the proposal was reworked. The Rainbow Movement described the proposal as a compromise between energy companies and consumers. However, according to the movement, it will help the development of renewable resources. But at the same time, the movement pointed out that there has been a delay in approving the changes, and it is necessary to speed up the steps so that sharing is possible from the beginning of next year.
According to the Union of Community Energy (UKEN), it is necessary for Parliament to approve the amendment by the middle of this year. He sees the elimination of discrimination against members of the community by traders and the precise determination of the rights and obligations of market participants when sharing electricity as key for the union. “It is crucial that the proposal also considers the protection of those customers who become members of energy communities. If a member no longer wants to participate in electricity sharing, for example due to high membership fees, he can end sharing without penalties and the community must transfer sharing to that person end. If the energy community continues to force its member to share, the Energy Regulatory Office can impose a fine of up to CZK 15 million,” said lawyer Frank Bold and UKEN Eliška Beranová.
The proposed amendment follows on from previous changes to the energy of the law. One of them is an amendment to the decree on the rules of the electricity market, which allows residents of apartment buildings to use energy from, for example, a photovoltaic power plant. Another novelty is the increase in the limit for the electricity production license, professional qualification and construction permit to 50 kilowatts.