Brief on new draft energy and electricity bills

The director general of the energy department, Nelisiwe Magubane, has now briefed Parliament on the impending tabling of both the National Energy Regulator Amendment Bill and the Electricity Regulation Amendment Bill which, according Magubane will beef up NERSA giving it the regulatory power to control “the entire energy space”.

She told the parliamentary committee on energy that that an independent appeal board headed up by a judge would replace the existing tribunal so that NERSA did not have to play both judge and jury in regulatory matters, where a decision on tariffs or regulatory procedures were involved. Appeals would therefore conducted in a fairer environment.

Both bills have been the subject of public comment and it remains to be seen what the final Bills tabled before Parliament look like. On electricity, much involves independent power producers (IPPs) and may sort out the anomalies that exist in the procurement of land for power line erection and the difficult liaison with the department of public works over such issues.

As far as the Energy Regulator Act (ERA) is concerned, the amendments proposed to parliamentarians were stated as being designed to “improve the credibility of the decision making process by establishing an appeals board; to improve the governance and accountability of the board and to improve the working relations amongst regulator members.”

The department of energy said that the energy sector had to be regulated more effectively “given the current need that has now arisen to increase private sector participation”.

Present at the briefing were officials of NERSA who also claimed, as did the department, that both new Bills would enable them to have the ability to work in a less fragmented environment with not so many departments having regulatory control over different issues.

NERSA at no stage discussed matters relating to fuel pricing and neither did the department. Further meetings are to follow.

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