Regulator prepares energy price regulation for small businesses

The Regulatory Office for Network Industries (ÚRSO) is preparing rules for the regulation of energy prices for small companies. New directives to define maximum electricity and natural gas prices for small businesses should take effect as of September 2012. Regulated energy prices for small companies should take effect next year.

The Regulatory Office for Network Industries (ÚRSO) is preparing rules for the regulation of energy prices for small companies. New directives to define maximum electricity and natural gas prices for small businesses should take effect as of September 2012. Regulated energy prices for small companies should take effect next year.

"The need to elaborate directives is in the interest of vulnerable consumers, defined in the law on regulation to take effect in September of this year," the regulator explained as quoted by the SITA newswire. The term 'vulnerable consumer' has been incorporated into the new law on regulation which is part of the implementation of the EU’s third energy liberalisation package.

According to the law, small businesses are to be deemed vulnerable consumers. The new law protects them in order to secure price stability due to unpredictable situations on the market with gas and electricity, the regulator said. A natural gas consumer will be considered a small business if its annual consumption does not exceed 100,000 kilowatt hours of gas. With regard to electricity consumers, their annual consumption may not exceed 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity. "The draft directive has no impact on the business environment," the regulator claims.

The natural gas utility Slovenský plynárenský priemysel (SPP) as the dominant gas supplier stated earlier that the reintroduction of price regulation for a portion of small and medium-sized companies is a step back. Instead, SPP had expected a plan of a gradual elimination of price regulation for households. Heat producers are not fond of special price regulation, either. According to head of the Slovak Association of Heat Producers (SZVT), Miroslav Obšivaný, such regulation will introduce non-transparency in regulation.

The daily Sme wrote in its Tuesday, August 7, issue that an edict concerning price regulation was filed for comments and discussion by the ÚRSO. Head of the ÚRSO Jozef Holjenčík – a Smer nominee – said that if the change is passed, the prices should be regulated again. In the past, Holjenčík planned to gradually decrease the level of regulation; but now, regulation is increasing. Holjenčík says, as quoted by Sme, that some of the energy suppliers increased the prices for companies that were no longer included in the regulation to such an extent – up to 20 percent in some cases – that this prompted the amendment to the law.

(Source: SITA, Sme)
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.

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