MPs and Experts Discussed Energy Regulator Reform Prospects
On 11 March 2016, the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety held the Round Table “New Regulator: Reform Prospects”, dedicated to discussion of ways of further improvement of the Draft Law “On the National Energy and Utilities Regulatory Commission” (Reg. No. 2966-д of 19 February 2016) as finalized by the Committee.
The Draft Law No. 2966-д is aimed at determining the procedure for establishment, the legal status and arrangement of activities of the NEURC, acting as an independent collegial body, as well as clear limits of its competence and powers necessary for comprehensive and transparent fulfilment of tasks assigned thereto. In addition, adoption of this Law is in line with the European integration aspirations of Ukraine and is aimed at implementation of the Third Energy Package.
MPs, representatives of the Ministry of Energy and Coal Industry, the civil society, the expert community and journalists took part in the discussion. The discussion was moderated by Olga Bielkova, People’s Deputy of Ukraine, Deputy Head of the Verkhovna Rada Committee on Fuel and Energy Complex, Nuclear Policy and Nuclear Safety, who presented main provisions of the Draft Law version, finalized by the Committee, and called for backing this initiative, aimed at the institution’s drastic reform and establishment of a truly independent, accountable, transparent, efficient and effective Energy Regulator.
Olga Bielkova stated: “Establishment of the new Regulator will become the main prerequisite for further change in relationship between the private sector and the government in the energy sector. The Regulator’s main task in a new context is to promote robust competition and to minimize the negative impact of natural monopolies in the energy markets.
We are looking to the establishment of the Regulator which will be both independent, that’s very important, and able to perform efficient state regulation in the energy markets and utility markets pursuant to the best European standards and based on the principles of transparency and accountability”.
MPs AlionaBabak, ViktoriaVoytsitska and Natalia Katser-Buchkovska also emphasized the importance of passing the Law to create a modern and competitive energy market.
The expert community representatives — AndriyBoytsun, Research Director, Centre for Economic Strategy, and OlenaPavlenko, President, DiXi Group Analytical Centre — made their presentations on the current Regulator’s main problems, relevant international practices and prospects of practical implementation of this reform. According to Olena Pavlenko, “it is Ukrainian consumers who are in a dire need for a professional and independent Regulator. In the context of continuously increasing energy and utility prices and tariffs, Ukrainians feel a pressing need to know their rights, to have an easy access to necessary information and to feel really safe. Only when there is a professional Regulator in the market could these needs be satisfied. However, its independence and professionalism should be protected by the law in accordance with the EU rules and requirements”.
The current Regulator’s representatives — NataliyaMorozova and ValeriyTarasiuk, the NEURC members — also informed the participants of their vision of further legislative reform in this field as well as of the scope of regulation to be performed by the Commission in the new context.
Summarizing the discussion, MP Olga Bielkova noted that, in her opinion, the Draft Law No. 2966-д was completely ready for debates in the Verkhovna Rada and there were no grounds for delaying its consideration.
The majority of the participants in the Round Table supported the need to pass the Draft Law. Some aspects (requirements and restrictions to be imposed on the Commission members; the procedure for rotation of members; the amount of fines to be imposed by the Regulator; the procedure for reviewing the amount of regulatory payments; the Commission powers as regards approval of licensing terms) triggered additional debates, but all in attendance agreed that these issues required separate analysis and could be adjusted when preparing the Draft Law to the second reading.
As far as we know, the Draft Law has been put on the Verkhovna Rada’s draft agenda for the next plenary week and is going to be considered on Tuesday, March, 15.