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Natural Gas

Natural gas: regulations and the tariff system framework

The criteria governing regulation of the natural gas sector show greater continuity than the electricity sector.  We note:

  • as part of the general review of the components covering sales and marketing costs carried out in 2007 the reform of the QVD (retail sale) component with the introduction of a bijective structure (set price equal for all protected customers and quotas variable in relation to consumption) that increased alignment of said cover with actual costs
  • the development of the instruments to support the regulated markets of capacity and gas
  • the updating of the standard network code and the development of the rules on the communication standards between distributors and sellers

 

Since the expiry of the regulatory period for the distribution tariffs and service quality is approaching (September 2008), numerous surveys and consultations have been initiated by the AEEG in view of the significant innovations:  among these, the alignment of the tariff system regulation period to the calendar year in place of the current thermal year.

An especially important change was announced regarding the future tariff structure for distribution, for which the following is provided: 

  • the possible replacement of the regulated capital evaluation methods currently in effect with a standardised valuation with new replacement cost criteria (however various options are being discussed with an increasing level of discontinuity compared to the current regulations)
  • the progressive standardisation of the tariffs, possibly on a national basis or at least on a regional basis
  • the identification of a “local restriction” (tariff system) and a “company restriction”, at least as regards the determination of the invested capital, in order to ensure that the geographical location of the operations management is not a determining factor as regards the distribution payments (as will be noted below, that should extend to supra-municipal areas).


Quality regulations are also being reviewed in view of the expiry of the current regulatory period. Like the decisions made in the electricity sector, it can be imagined that stricter criteria in the definition of service efficiency and greater user protections will be adopted, just as for the incentive providing schemes to pass from the current optional participation to the obligatory regime. 

The AEEG has also started to examine future technological developments of the metering systems, due to evidence pointing to the fact that the current instruments are supposedly inadequate and outdated.

The government was notified of apparent inconsistencies of the general and technical regulations on measurement techniques that cause uncertainty when measuring the energy actually used by gas users.