Hengeler Mueller represents TenneT TSO in landmark proceedings regarding grid connection of offshore windfarms

27. January 2015

On 26 November 2014, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf ruled in appeal proceedings of Nördlicher Grund GmbH (Nördlicher Grund) against the Federal Network Agency regarding the future construction of offshore windfarms in the North Sea, marking an important landmark decision for the energy turnaround. TenneT TSO, the concerned transmission system operator, was significantly involved in the appeal proceedings. The ruling of the court has now become binding.

The offshore windfarm Nördlicher Grund sought a connection to the offshore grid of TenneT TSO on an as early as possible basis, which would have involved a higher guaranteed feed-in remuneration for Nördlicher Grund. However, an accelerated connection would have only been possible on the basis of an interim provision (Section 118 para. 12 EnWG) if relevant grid connection criteria had been fully satisfied by the reference dates. Rather than going this route, Nördlicher Grund pursued a short-cut-option, implying to fulfill all relevant grid connection criteria at once based on the regulatory framework effective until 28 December 2012 and arguing that the interim provision should be applied broadly to cover such short-cut-option as well.

The Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf has now clarified that an accelerated connection of short-cut-cases is neither justified by the legislator’s intention nor for constitutional reasons. Hence, accelerated grid connections can be achieved only on the basis of the offshore grid development plan and the allocation decision of the Federal Network Agency. For all concerned and for the energy industry at large, this decision is of major importance to preserve legal certainty. Moreover, for the consumer, no additional costs are created in connection with the energy turnaround, neither as part of the grid charge following the construction of additional offshore connections, nor short term in connection with the EEG apportionment.

Hengeler Mueller has advised and represented TenneT TSO in both the preceding administrative proceedings as well as the court appeal proceedings. The Hengeler Mueller team is led by partner Dirk Uwer (Energy Law, Düsseldorf) and includes associates Jörg Meinzenbach and Moritz Rademacher (both Energy Law, Düsseldorf).