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PESHAWAR: The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government has voiced concerns about some of the changes proposed by the federal government to the National Electric Power Regulatory Authority (Nepra) law.

Officials in the provincial energy and power department told Dawn that some of the proposed amendments to the Nepra Act were inimical to the interests of the province and that the province would effectively oppose them at available forums.

An official said the centre had shared with the province a concept note envisioning at least 13 amendments to the Nepra law.

Complains about end to licensing regimes for power plants, authority’s reconstitution

An internal memo of the energy and power department available with Dawn shows the province has expressed reservations about the abolition of licensing regimes for power plants.

Another official said under the proposed changes to the law, the projects other than hydel won’t require the Nepra’s clearance for execution.

He said the move was going to directly hurt the interests of KP as other provinces planning to begin LNG or other energy projects won’t have to seek clearance from Nepra but KP would have to secure that for executing hydel power projects.

The official said KP was the only province with a large hydel power potential and therefore, the proposed amendments to the Nepra law would bind it to seek the federal government’s permission for setting up power projects, while the other provinces setting up non-hydel projects would not require the same.

The energy and power department memo says the proposed reconstitution of the authority is going to deprive the province of its voice in the authority.

The federal government has proposed that the number of years of experience and provincial affiliation would not be a criterion for appointment of authority members, wherein presently its structure allows a member each representing a province.

“Presently, the provincial government appoints its member and he represents a province in the authority and after the amendment the province would have no say in the authority,” the official said.

The memo notes that that proposed amendment would remove the provincial representation, which was one of the cornerstones of the Nepra Act.

“The amendment gives unfretted discretion to appoint the authority’s chairman and members of the Nepra and such amendments amount to the usurpation of the provincial representation within the functions of the Nepra and contravention of the 18th Constitutional Amendment,” the memo noted.

The proposed amendment to Section 31 of the Nepra law states the authority which previously used to determine the entire power tariff will in future determine tariff components.

The official said the KP government was of the view that by doing away with the authority’s power to determine power tariff in entirety, the centre was trying to have a monopoly on the determine of electricity rates.

The energy department memo stated that the power tariff’s determination was the core statutory tool for regulating energy projects and pricing within the country and any modification or curtailment of such powers provided by the Nepra Act, removed the authority’s core function and would severely compromise the ability of the regulator to ensure safe, reliable and cost-efficient supply of electric power to the end consumers.

It added that the province had also objected to the amendment to Section 12A, which provided for the setting up of the appellate tribunal for judicial review of decisions of regulator simply adds another tier in the dispensation of justice.

The memo said the tribunal’s decisions could be challenged in the high court, which merely added another tier instead of serving any useful purpose.

Published in Dawn, December 23rd, 2016

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