The European Commission opened on March 19 a formal investigation to assess whether German grid operator TenneT’s limitation of capacity from Western Denmark into Germany breaches EU antitrust rules, the EU’s competition chief said.

“Energy should flow freely in Europe so that the electricity produced by a windmill in one country can reach the consumers in another,” said Competition Policy Commissioner Margrethe Vestager. “Our investigation into TenneT is part of our efforts to ensure that electricity grid operators do not unjustifiably restrict the free flow of electricity between Member States, to the detriment of European energy consumers. Ensuring that electricity interconnectors remain fully open to cross-border trade is essential to achieve our overall objective of an efficient, sustainable and competitive energy market,” she added.

According to the Commission, the investigation will focus on indications that TenneT may be reducing the amount of transmission capacity available on the electricity interconnector at the border between Western Denmark and Germany.

If proven, this behaviour may breach EU antitrust rules, specifically on the abuse of a dominant market position, as it would amount to discrimination against non-German electricity producers and to a segmentation of the Single Market for energy, the Commission said.

On March 19, the EC also sent to TenneT its preliminary assessment setting out in further detail its competition concerns. The Commission and TenneT are engaged in constructive discussions on commitments to address those concerns.

The investigation into TenneT complements the Commission’s effort to address the systematic limitation of cross-border capacity on electricity interconnectors across the EU. An opening of a formal investigation does not prejudge its outcome.