6 June 2013:
Poor Transparency at Bundesnetsagentur

On 15 April 2013 the German newspaper, Handelsblatt, had a story: "The staggering power grid" ("Im Stromnetz hat's gewackelt"). A longer story the next day under the heading "The new stress with power" develops further the threats to electricity supply in Germany.

Several media had the same story with more or less alarming headlines. All these media referred to Handelsblatt as the sources of the story.

Bundesnetzagentur (the Federal Grid Agency) prepares a brief report on the grid operation in Germany every two weeks. Handelsblatt had got into possession of the report for the second part of March 2013.

The grid conditions were stressed in the 50Hertz control area between 25th and 27th March 2013. An alert condition was declared. The consequence was that the N-1 security requirement was not always met, and that 12.8 GWh and up to 1.600 MW were redispatched. In order to prevent unintended flows through Poland the export must be kept within the control range of a virtual phase shifting transformer. This is a temporary agreement which will be replaced by a real phase shifting transformer.

The situation was serious, but probably not exceptional. The question is if it deserved the colourful headlines.

Unfortunately it was not possible to find more technical information on the German gid conditions. Therefore I asked Bundesnetzagentur for a subscription for the fortnightly report (Kurzbericht). The polite answer said that the report is made exclusively for the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology and not available to the public. Bundesnetzagentur publishes a report on the grid conditions once a year during the first half-year. I presented the summary of the report for the winter season 2011/2012 on 9 May 2012 here.

I am wondering why the strictly technical information in the fortnightly report is confidential. The operational conditions in the German grids are very interesting to experts in Germany and in the neighbouring countries. An annual evaluation is far from sufficient.

Public access to the fortnightly reports could allow continuous follow-up of redispatch measures and other key data and would probably prevent the alarming headlines in the media caused by the leak of one report to the press.

A new Danish law on 'closed' administration
On 4 June 2013 the Danish Parliament passed a revised law on open administration. According to the new law a report from a state agency to a ministry will be exempted from public control in Denmark. This has not been the case so far.

I do not know the corresponding German legislation, but the case is an example of an unreasonable limitation of public access to state documents.

I think that Bundesnetzagentur and the Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology owe us a very good explanation for the concealment of the fortnightly grid reports.

Opdateret d. 6.6.2013