Loss of rights worries watchdog

Business

By LEMACH LAVARI
The Independent Consumer and Competition Commission (ICCC) is concerned that it may not be effective in regulating the electricity industry if its licensing powers is removed.
A senior legal officer of ICCC said ICCC’s core roles in regulating the electricity industry were licensing of independent power producers, and economic regulations which involved monitoring cost of electricity.
The officer said the licensing responsibility was currently enforced by PNG Power Ltd because it had the technical capacity.
However, with the proposed National Energy Authority, the licensing role held by PPL would be transferred to the authority.
The officer said if this happened, the ICCC would be able to screen applications for power producing companies but would not have regulative power to grant or decline licences.
“It is not clear whether our consideration will determine the approval of licences for independent power producers,” the officer said.
Energy Minister Sam Basil said when the energy authority was created, it would remove the regulatory aspects from PNG Power and the ICCC.
He said following the creation of the authority, PPL would not be the sole retailer of power.
“The licence will be open to many other players, which means there will be competition in the power industry,” Basil said.
PPL marketing and strategic planning manager Togaro Asiba said if the authority sought to regulate licensing of the electricity industry, it must not create a new division that was responsible for line inspections and overall policing of technical aspects of the industry.
He said the authority should consider using the existing division within PPL to save time and cost in building capacity.

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