Since the gradual opening of energy markets in the 2000s, electricity and gas consumers have been free to choose their suppliers. The latter, producers and energy traders, evolve in the competitive sector.
Electricity and gas transmission and distribution networks remain monopolies and, as such, must provide transparent and non-discriminatory access to network users, to ensure the delivery of energy from suppliers to their customers. In order to ensure their economic efficiency and their independence vis-à-vis the players, these monopolies are subject to regulation, exercised in France by the CRE (Energy Regulatory Commission).
When it was incorporated in 2005, RTE adopted a Code of Conduct (CoC), submitted to CRE for approval, which combines “the internal organization measures taken to prevent the risks of discriminatory practice in terms of third-party access to the network” (Article L. 111-22 of the Energy Code).
- Code of Conduct
- Annual Report 2021 on the Independence of RTE and Implementation of the Code of Conduct
Originally, the CoC contained three chapters corresponding to the obligations of the network operators necessary for the proper functioning of the markets:
- guaranteeing non-discrimination between network users,
- ensuring transparency in relation with the regulator and the network users,
- protecting the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information.
A final chapter described the steps taken to guarantee sustained employee commitment and compliance with these requirements.
As RTE has been maintained within a Vertically Integrated Undertaking (VIU), the EDF group, strenghtened independence requirements apply. RTE was certified by CRE in early 2012 as an Independent Transmission Operator (ITO). On this occasion, a new chapter was inserted at the beginning of the CoC, devoted to the independence of RTE vis-à-vis the VIU and the other electricity market players.
A role of Compliance Officer has been established within the ITOs. Independent of RTE, the Chief Compliance Officer is responsible in particular for ensuring the compliance of RTE's practices with its independence obligations and for verifying the application by RTE of the commitments contained in the CoC. He establishes an annual report on the implementation of the CoC, which he sends to CRE.
The change in RTE's capital in 2017 led CRE to extend the scope of the VIU to Caisse des Dépôts et Consignations and its power generation subsidiaries. At the same time, adjustments were made to the CoC:
- non-discrimination and transparency relate not only to network users but also to all electricity market players,
- two chapters have been inserted: the ten-year network development plan and the relations between RTE and the subsidiaries it controls.
Finally, since mid-2019, RTE's CoC has been including a section on RTE's obligations under the European regulation on wholesale energy market integrity and transparency (REMIT).
Zoom on the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information
As a Transmission System Operator, RTE “shall protect the confidentiality of economic, commercial, industrial, financial or technical information which when disclosed could infringe the rules of free and fair competition and non-discrimination” (Article L. 111-72 of Energy Code).
In addition, RTE “shall prevent information about its own activities which may be commercially advantageous from being disclosed in a discriminatory manner” (Article 16 of Directive 2009/72 /EC).
To meet these commitments, RTE takes relevant steps wherever possible, particularly in respect of its own staff and any external entities with which it works.
RTE's handling of confidential and sensitive information is based on:
- a national Directive whose requirements are incorporated into RTE's management practices,
- an awareness-raising communication approach based on the hierarchical structure in place at the company, and an operational communication approach based on networks in each area of expertise, with the help of confidentiality guides for each area,
- a system of information channels and feedback built upon a network of confidentiality correspondents.
Particular importance is placed on the Information System, which must be both efficient and open to development, with the security needed to guarantee fair access to data and confidentiality for sensitive data.
Zoom: RTE's dealing with customers' complaints
The customer's main contact, Customer Relationship Manager or Key Accounts Manager, answers to any complaint filed by a customer in three stages:
- He confirms the complaint reception to the customer within 10 calendar days.
- He gathers all information to be able to analyse the customer's complaint.
- He answers to the customer within 30 calendar days.
In case of a complex complaint, RTE may need more time to analyse it and informs the customer about this additional time.
RTE prevents any risk of discrimination by going through all complaints, in particular by checking if there are a few from the same customer and if there is any from a new comer.
As part of its management system, RTE makes a regular summary of customers' complaints and publishes it in the annual report about the implementation of the Code of Conduct.