Formation of energy body bogged down by delays

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    Oct 25, 2018-

    The Energy Ministry has not established a commission to regulate the energy sector even though more than a year has passed since Parliament passed the Electricity Regulatory Commission Bill. In August 2017, Parliament endorsed the bill paving the way for the establishment of a powerful commission to regulate the country’s energy sector, and President Bidya Devi Bhandari subsequently signed the bill into law.

    The Ministry has not got around to setting up the Nepal Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC). It has not formed a hiring committee to fill the different positions at the commission. A commissioner, members and other staff are still to be appointed. The hiring committee was supposed to be formed under the energy secretary as soon as the act came into effect, but it has not happened.

    According to the Ministry, its plan to establish the NERC was held up due to delays in preparing the required operating regulations. “It took several months to prepare a draft of the regulations, and the Law Ministry took another few months to give its approval, said Dinesh Kumar Ghimire, spokesperson for the Energy Ministry. “This was the major reason behind the delay.”

    The Energy Ministry said it would soon form a hiring committee under the leadership of its secretary for the appointment of NERC staff including a commissioner and members. “An expert committee will be formed within a couple of days, and it will invite proposals from interested candidates to select the commissioner and members of the commission,” said Ghimire. “Now, it will not take much more time to establish the commission.”

    The NERC will supersede the existing Electricity Tariff Fixation Commission and set the charges that customers will have to pay to the Nepal Electricity Authority (NEA), the state-owned power utility. The commission will fix the electricity tariff after holding a public hearing. The commission, according to the regulations, will also establish a code that various entities under its jurisdiction will have to follow. The code will specify standards for the construction of hydropower plants, transmission lines and distribution networks. It will also determine the voltage that will be supplied to customers by the utility.

    The commission will also have a full mandate to determine the power purchase rate for the state-owned power utility. At present, the NEA is the sole buyer of electricity in Nepal, and it has been fixing the rate for the purchase of electricity from hydropower projects. Also, the power utility has to take approval from the commission to sign power purchase agreements with project developers.

     

    Source: The Kathmandu Post