NIK: The increasingly older power grid does not allow the economy to be free from coal

Luc Williams

In the conclusions presented in the information after the inspection of the power distribution network, the Supreme Audit Office indicated that over half of our power lines are more than 30 years old, which makes it difficult to connect renewable energy sources. The Chamber assessed that the quality of transmitted energy is getting lower and the modernization of the network is failing. According to the Supreme Audit Office, without investment there will be no way of freeing the economy from coal and reliable energy supplies.

Incomplete transposition of EU regulations also delays the development of the distribution network because there is no uniform legal environment, it was noted.

As reported by the Supreme Audit Office, investment omissions and delays result in the aging of the network infrastructure. “In 2021, a total of 46% of 110 kV power lines (high voltage – HV) were older than 40 years, and half of them were older than 50 years. Only 16% of these lines in 2021 were younger than 10 years . 40% of MV lines in 2021 were older than 40 years (15% were older than 50 years), and only 15% of these lines were younger than 10 years. Low voltage (LV) lines older than 40 years constituted in 2021, 30% of all LV lines, and lines younger than 10 years old accounted for only 19% of all LV lines,” the information said.

The Supreme Audit Office found that the increase in the length of lines older than 40 years was greater than the increase in the length of lines younger than 10 years, which in the case of low voltage lines was even negative.

NIK examined whether the development of the distribution network and the improvement of the quality parameters of electricity supplies compared to the indicators in EU countries were ensured. As indicated in the report, the document Polish Energy Policy until 2040 (PEP2040) prepared by the Minister of Climate and Environment corresponds to the directions of EU policy in the field of electricity, but the actions taken by state authorities and energy companies did not significantly contribute to the development of the network.

According to NIK, the advanced age of the network infrastructure, the low level of cabling of the power grid, especially medium voltage lines, and the deteriorating quality indicators of electricity supply resulted in the need to pay rebates by distribution system operators. Only one operator improved the indicators regarding energy supply interruptions.

“In 2021, the increase in the amount of undelivered energy was 50% higher than in the previous year, which led to an increase in the number of applications for discounts. Compared to 2020, the number of applications in 2021 increased almost six times, and in 2022 almost twenty-five times “- indicated the Chamber.

In the opinion of the Supreme Audit Office, the state authorities did not fully implement the tasks leading to the efficient development of distribution networks.

It was added that two of the three ownership companies of distribution system operators limited the development of the network by reducing real investment outlays, which violated the EU principles of independence of distribution network operators. As a result, in 2020–2021 they did not ensure the implementation of investment and modernization tasks at the level agreed with the President of the Energy Regulatory Office in the development plans and tariff process. The expenses incurred were sometimes even 48 percent higher. lower than planned, although revenues and funds obtained from the EU made it possible to finance the planned investments – indicated the Supreme Audit Office.

As reported by the Supreme Audit Office, two companies with State Treasury shareholding; Energa SA and Energa-Operator SA prevented the inspection in question. The Chamber submitted a notification to the prosecutor's office in this case.


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