Government moves to establish electricity commission

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    Nov 2, 2018-

    The Ministry of Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation (MoEWRI) has initiated the process to set up a commission to regulate the energy sector, more than a year after an act was passed for its establishment.

    Minister for Energy, Water Resources and Irrigation Barsha Man Pun on Wednesday formed a three-member committee headed by Irrigation Secretary Sanjay Sharma to appoint office bearers to the Nepal Electricity Regulatory Commission (NERC), a powerful body to regulate the country’s energy sector.

    Electricity expert Megh Bahadur Bishwokarma and MoEWRI Joint Secretary Toya Nath Adhikari are the other members of the committee. The panel is mandated to recommend candidates for commissioner and members to the government.

    Committee coordinator Sharma told the Post that he would initiate the selection process after the Tihar festival which begins next week. Sharma is yet to receive a formal letter about the formation of the committee.

    As per the Electricity Regulatory Commission Act, the committee is required to publish a 15-day notice inviting proposals from interested Nepali citizens. The committee has to recommend the names of the commissioner and four members within 21 days.

    In order to qualify for the position of commissioner, a candidate should have served in a government office as secretary or hold a Master’s degree in economics, science, political science or commerce besides possessing 25 years’ experience in the related field. In order to be eligible to apply for the position of member, one must have a Master’s in one of the aforementioned subjects and 15 years’ experience in the related field.

    The Cabinet will name the commissioner and members of the NERC. Subsequently, the panel will appoint other staff to give full shape to the commission, according to the ministry.

    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 obtain the commission’s approval to sign power purchase agreements with project developers.

     

    – BIBEK SUBEDI

    Source: The Kathmandu Post