Balancing Public Values During the Energy Transition - How Can German and Dutch DSOs Safeguard Sustainability?

30 Pages Posted: 16 May 2018 Last revised: 17 May 2018

See all articles by Marga Edens

Marga Edens

Tilburg University, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC)

Saskia Lavrijssen

Tilburg University - TILEC

Date Written: May 16, 2018

Abstract

Distribution of electricity constitutes an essential link in the energy sector value chain for which Distribution System Operators (DSOs) bear the responsibility. While executing that role, DSOs are expected to take into consideration public values, such as the availability, affordability and sustainability of the infrastructure they manage.

The energy transition causes DSOs to deal with increasingly unpredictable flows of locally generated renewable energy, requiring more response options than current legislation provides. This paper uses legal-empirical research (interviews and surveys) to demonstrate that German and Dutch DSOs increasingly struggle with the limited consideration they can give sustainability during the transition towards a smart and renewables-based energy system. DSOs experience an imbalance within the energy public value triangle. Unbalanced public values, as perceived by DSOs, are a symptom of the mismatch between the DSOs’ daily practice, shaped by the challenges of the energy transition, and existing legislation.

This paper compares European, German, and Dutch (forthcoming) legislation intended to further the energy transition, and analyzes the pros and cons of the various approaches in terms of their impact on the DSOs’ challenges. On that basis, legislative changes are recommended to clarify the role of DSOs, reduce public value tensions for DSOs, and support DSOs in a more balanced overall response to the energy transition.

• DSOs find it increasingly difficult to balance the public values they are to protect • Current German and Dutch legislation leaves limited room for sustainability • Legislative changes are recommended to provide DSOs with more response options

Keywords: DSO, public values, sustainability

JEL Classification: K23, K32, L98, Q42, Q48

Suggested Citation

Edens, Marga and Lavrijssen, Saskia, Balancing Public Values During the Energy Transition - How Can German and Dutch DSOs Safeguard Sustainability? (May 16, 2018). TILEC Discussion Paper No. 2018-015. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3179372 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3179372

Marga Edens (Contact Author)

Tilburg University, Tilburg Law School, Tilburg Law and Economics Center (TILEC) ( email )

Warandelaan 2
Netherlands

Saskia Lavrijssen

Tilburg University - TILEC

P.O. Box 90153
Tilburg, DC 5000 LE
Netherlands

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