Open electricity market stifled

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Liberalising Cyprus’ electricity market is hampered by authorities dragging their feet over an employment framework of the Transmission System Operator, according to MPs.

Chair of the House Energy Committee and DISY MP, Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, has requested President Nicos Anastasiades intervene.

In comments to CyBC radio, Hadjiyiannis blamed the Energy Ministry, accusing the authority of not acting swiftly to table the necessary bills on the TSO employment framework.

Hadjiyiannis said that while the legislation for the complete separation of the Cyprus Transmission System Operator (TSO) from the Electricity Authority of Cyprus is approved by Parliament, the framework governing its operating regulations has not yet been submitted by the Energy Ministry.

The TSO will also supervise the operation of the liberalisation of the electricity market.

The ministry sent a draft of the regulations in July to the legal services, which have found them incomplete.

Even when regulations are approved, the authority will still need significant time to hire and train staff.

Pending regulations prevent ensuring the administrator’s impartiality towards private electricity producers and suppliers, as TSO employees are currently civil servants.

Now some EAC employees are working on a secondment basis at the TSO.

Upon introducing the new employment framework, they will have to decide whether to leave their position at the EAC and join the TSO or return.

Authorities have yet to table a bill allowing the TSO to hire its personnel.

Although the service plans for TSO staff were submitted to the Department of Public Administration and Personnel in June, they have not yet received its approval, which means they cannot be forwarded to Legal Services.

Further delay is expected in launching a free electricity market; as the Cyprus Energy Regulating Authority has said, the trial period of the Transmission System will have to be repeated in October.

The testing period will have to be repeated as producers were not ready to participate in the first test run.

Opposition MPs have blamed the delay solely on the government, with AKEL MP Costas Costa calling it a “mockery”.

“On 16 October, a second test run will be launched with no indication of when it will be over,” said Costa.

Liberalisation plans of the energy market have been delayed for more than a decade, as the first law was introduced in 2003.

Based on the roadmap introduced by that law, the electricity market should have been liberalised in 2012.