By LEMACH LAVARI
The proposed National Energy Authority will ensure that people in rural areas have access to affordable energy and landowners of future energy projects receive real benefits, says Energy Minister Sam Basil.
He said the authority was still a bill and would be proposed to Parliament after proper consultation with stakeholders in the energy industry.
Basil said this after the energy policy dialogue and stakeholder workshop hosted by the PNG Chamber of Mines and Petroleum in Port Moresby yesterday.
He said a core focus area for the authority would be to include landowners in energy projects and to achieve Government’s target of providing electricity to 70 per cent of people in rural areas.
“Less than 15 per cent of people in PNG have access to electricity,” Basil said.
“One of the objectives of the authority will be to ensure villages with power grid lines running through them have access to power.
“For rural areas where land is made available for hydro or wind generation for electricity, we want to make sure landowners of these project areas are included.”
Energy policy working group chairman Joseph Gabut said the authority would ensure landowners were given benefits similar to those in the petroleum industry. He said this would include 2 per cent royalty and up to 5 per cent equity benefit shares in energy projects.
Gabut said other key areas included having the minister’s support to drive the industry and for the Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) to work closely with the authority.
He said ICCC’s role was important to ensure reliable companies were given licenses to produce power for rural areas.
Gabut said the authority would also look at licensing downstream petroleum activities such as service stations and bottled gas retailers.
Basil said there was potential for dams in Northern and Central to produce hydro-electricity.
He said with the increasing demand for electricity from mining projects, plans for a dam at the head waters of the Purari River in Gulf may be possible in the near future.
By LEMACH LAVARI