European Parliament’s Committee on Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) voted Wednesday to modernise the EU’s electricity market, striving to give consumers more choice and greater energy security.

The ITRE amended four legislative proposals on the EU electricity market. They are part of the so-called Clean Energy package and a step closer to an Energy Union. Once the plenary confirms the mandate for negotiations, talks with EU ministers can begin.

The European Parliament said in a press release that measures would provide comparison tools on energy providers, transparent bills and contracts, as well as help consumers who produce their own electricity and enhance regional cooperation during electricity crises due to natural disasters or attacks.

According to the ITRE, more competition in the electricity market, better information to consumers and small energy producers and plans to tackle shortages during crises are addressed in this energy package.

The Industry and Energy Committee is pushing for rules leading to more efficient competition and prices on the market.

MEPs also amended proposals to empower and protect consumers and put in place measures to tackle energy shortages. MEPs also want the Member States to consider additional payments to capacity providers only as a last resort and under certain conditions.

The ITRE noted that MEPs do not want consumers who generate, consume and sell energy, also called prosumers, to be discriminated against.

MEPs agreed in particular on clear conditions for creating and managing local energy communities, i.e. groups of people producing and consuming energy locally. These local networks should contribute to the costs of the electricity system they connect to and not distort competition, MEPs added.

In the event of an electricity supply shortage, MEPs agreed on national and regional measures to be implemented before and during crises to ensure that supply is not stopped due to adverse weather conditions or malicious attacks, such as malware or hacking.

Regional coordination centres should help to draft crisis planning scenarios, while the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators (ACER) should be able to ensure that they comply with their obligations, the European Parliament said.

SolarPower Europe noted that the European Parliament has taken the consumer-driven energy transition to the next level. “MEPs have voted to protect small-scale renewables installations by maintaining priority dispatch for small players such as homeowners, which is a hugely important win for the clean energy transition.

While today’s vote has gone a long way towards safeguarding small-scale installations, the legislation on balancing responsibilities remains too weak and could inflict serious burdens on consumers,” said Aurélie Beauvais, Policy Director of SolarPower Europe.

“MEPs have voted to restrict the use of market-distorting capacity mechanisms and remove public subsidies to high CO2 emitting power plants, this is fully in line with climate objectives,” Beauvais added.

For his part, EGEC Secretary General Philippe Dumas noted that the ITRE sent a positive signal to innovative and flexible renewable technologies such as a new generation of geothermal plants. “Recognising the special role of innovative technologies like geothermal systems is crucial for a sound, cost-efficient and renewable-based electricity system,” Dumas said.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson noted, “It’s good the Parliament is keeping the priority dispatch for existing wind installations. And to see clear rules on curtailment. This helps wind energy projects to reduce risk, lower their costs of capital, and minimise the cost of renewables support for consumers. But we are a bit worried about the new rules on balancing”.

“While many governments are trying to prop up failing energy companies with massive handouts, the Parliament recognises the power of renewables and that taxpayer money should not be wasted on old, polluting power plants. This energy reform must be an investment in our future and empower the millions of Europeans eager to combat climate change and produce their own energy,” said Greenpeace EU energy policy adviser Sebastian Mang.