In the last issue we discussed the proposed new Energy Law. Now it is time to turn to the second element in the package of energy legislation presented in December 2011 by the Polish Ministry of Economy.
The proposed Gas Law would regulate activity involving transmission, distribution, sale, storage, precipitation and regasification of natural gas. The greatest strength of the bill is to separate and clarify the regulations governing the gas sector. The bill applies only to gas supplied via a gas system. Mechanisms are proposed to protect sensitive users through a reduction of the amounts they would have to pay for gas supplies. The procedure for customers to change gas suppliers is regulated. Emergency sales would be introduced if the current seller ceases to sell gas to a customer. The category of “protected users” is introduced, meaning households and institutions providing essential public services (schools and healthcare facilities). Protected users would not be subject to limitations on gas supplies, and suppliers selling to such users would be required to maintain gas reserves enabling them to provide secure supplies.
Generally, the system of licensing and fees would undergo only slight changes. The concept of gas “trading” as the subject of licensing is dropped in favour of gas “sales.” Sellers who do not supply gas to households would be able to set the price of gas without having to obtain approval for their rates in each instance by the president of the Energy Regulatory Office. Rates could reflect the cost of initiatives connected with the development of renewable energy sources or high-efficiency cogeneration, which indicates support from lawmakers for construction of facilities such as gas-fired combined heat and power plants (using high-efficiency cogeneration). The requirement to hold a separate licence to import gas would be dropped.
The Gas Law is intended to transpose the Gas Directive (2009/73/EC) into the Polish legal system. The bill would introduce certification of the independence of the gas transmission system operator. However, the transmission system operator in Poland would continue to be only one company, 100% controlled by the State Treasury. Rules would also be introduced exempting new infrastructure, including mutual connections, from the requirement to obtain approval of rates and the requirement to provide access to infrastructure to third parties.
Weronika Pelc, Energy Law practice, Wardyński & Partners