CRU is responsible for ensuring that the operation of the Irish gas and electricity network is in line with the European regulations, and that that the network is fit for purpose in the context of system needs, efficiency, national policy and the consumer interest. CRU aims to do this in a way that is fair, non-discriminatory and promotes efficient use of the existing network.

CRU achieves this by:

  • implementing European Network Codes and Guidelines
  • setting policy for the connection of customers, generators and interconnectors to the energy system
  • ensuring that the network companies comply with European Requirements

Network codes

European Network Codes or guidelines have been developed as part of the implementation of the Third Energy Package. They are sets of common rules throughout the European Union, which apply to one or more parts of the energy sector. Once the codes enter into force, they become European Regulations. As Regulations they apply directly to Ireland without being transposed into national laws or regulatory frameworks.

Member States are obliged to implement the European Network Codes. In the event that a Member State does not comply with a European Regulation, it can face infringement proceedings (which can involve very substantial fines). As such, the Member State is ultimately responsible for implementation in Ireland.

The implementation of network codes in Ireland is undertaken in a coordinated way. Each network code goes through an extensive process before it is considered as fully implemented. This involves work and input from market participants, network companies, and regulators.

Further information on the various network codes that the CRU has consulted and made decisions on can be found here.

Connections and access

Gas

All new connections to the transmission and distribution gas network are the responsibility of Gas Networks Ireland, these connections are managed in conjunction with the CRU. Gas Networks Ireland's Connection Policy is available on the Gas Networks Ireland website.

The Gas Networks Ireland Connections Policy aims to encourage the connection of new gas customers in an efficient manner. New gas connections must meet the economic test set out in the Connections Policy. It is anticipated that the introduction of new loads onto the gas network will in the medium to long term place downward pressure on the unit tariff paid for by customers.

The connection policy is a single policy dealing with connections to the transmission and distribution gas networks. The policy sets out the detailed criteria for the evaluation of extensions to the gas network, including extensions to towns not currently served by natural gas. For the latest Gas Connection Policy, please follow this link.

Electricity

The Commission for Regulation of Utilities sets the policy for connection to the electricity network in Ireland.

The Enduring Connection Policy applies to the connection of onshore generation and storage projects of size >11kW.

Projects less than or equal to 6kW (single phase) and 11kW (three phase) are classified as micro-generation and subject to the CRU’s relevant policy (CER/09/033 & CER/07/208).

In March 2018, the CRU reached a final decision on the Enduring Connection Policy – Stage 1 (ECP-1), fundamentally changing the process for generators and storage providers (greater than 11 kW) applying to connect to the Transmission or Distribution system (CRU/18/058). This decision followed an extensive period of engagement with stakeholders including EirGrid, ESB Networks and the generation and storage industry which began in 2015.

The ECP-1 decision introduced, amongst other things, a new system for issuing connection offers for new generation and storage capacity. ECP replaced the previous Group Processing Approach (GPA) system of “gates” with the intention to introduce more frequent batches. The non-GPA process for smaller renewable and low carbon generators was suspended and a new non-batch process was introduced.

ESB Networks and EirGrid issued over 120 connection offers the ECP-1 batch (2018-2020) with a combined capacity of over 2,250 MW. This resulted in the acceptance of around 80 offers with a combined capacity of over 1,600 MW.

After further consultation the CRU reached a decision on ECP Stage 2 (ECP-2) in 10 June 2020 (CRU/20/060), providing for one batch each year for three years (2021-2023) for new generation and storage connection offers to connect to the electricity network.

In addition to continuing the ECP-1 objectives, ECP-2 prioritised, in the first instance, large renewable energy projects in line with the CRU strategic priority of delivering sustainable low-carbon solutions with well-regulated networks. ECP-2 will also facilitate Government defined community-led renewable energy projects by allocating these separately and by not requiring planning permission to apply for a grid connection.

The Government’s Climate Action Plan includes a separate action for the progression of planning, route to market and grid for offshore projects. The CRU is therefore developing offshore grid connection policy separately from the Enduring Connection Policy (ECP) process.

Notwithstanding the ECP or offshore processes, the CRU reserves the right to direct the system operators to prioritise connections for generation in order to maintain security of supply should this be required.

For more information on the application procedure for connection to the electricity system please consult the following links to the system operator’s websites.

Projects with over 40 MW total export capacity at a single location should initially consult EirGrid information for a Transmission connection here:

http://www.eirgridgroup.com/__uuid/abd2c4e6-1555-4cb9-b113-4f161e687c25/index.xml

Proposals for under 40 MW total export capacity at a single location should initially consult with ESB Networks information for a distribution connection here:

https://www.esbnetworks.ie/new-connections/generator-connections/overview

Interconnectors

Electricity interconnectors are treated separately to the wider enduring connection policy that pertains to generation and demand. European policy explicitly favours further electricity interconnection between Member States, providing for increased market efficiency, enhanced trading, improved security of supply and reduced curtailment.

In August 2016, the CER requested that interested parties to provide submission on the matters that should be considered in the development of a policy for electricity interconnectors.

Disputes

Background

Parties who have a statutory right to be connected to the transmission or the distribution system under the terms of the Electricity Regulation Act, 1999 also have a right under Section 34 (6) to refer a dispute they may have with either/both operator to the CRU for resolution. Disputes may relate to a connection request refusal, the terms of a connection offer, the charges proposed or other matters relating to the connection.

The CRU has a well-established process in place for dealing with disputes efficiently and fairly. Adhering to this process - setting out the key background facts succinctly, meeting timelines, supplying supporting evidence and argumentation – is incumbent on all parties involved: generators, the system operators, and the CRU itself. The Dispute Guidelines describe the procedure used by the CRU to accept and determine disputes.

The CRU expects that initial dispute submissions by parties will be clear and succinct with only relevant information included, as to the scope and issue(s) in dispute. The CRU will only be in a position to accept disputes where a submission includes the relevant information necessary for CRU review. The Dispute Summary Document must be completed as part of the initial dispute submission.

How to submit a dispute

All dispute submissions must be made in writing and submitted via email to section34disputes@cru.ie or by post to Section 34 Disputes, Commission for Regulation of Utilities, The Exchange, Belgard Square North, Tallaght, Dublin 24.

The CRU aims to resolve disputes within a two month period in line with Statutory Instrument no 60 of 2005. In order to meet this deadline, the CRU will ask for the co-operation of all parties to the dispute in providing timely and comprehensive information and in responding promptly to requests for information.