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Regulation: electricity and gas

The most new regulatory developments in the first half of 2010 occurred in the gas sector. In chronological order, the first important resolution, as it closed a regulatory gap on the matter, was ARG/gas 7/10. With this resolution, the Authority defined a method used to estimate natural gas consumption following ascertained malfunction of metering units, effectively completing the regulatory process started by resolution ARG/gas 51/08 regarding the inspection of gas metering units upon request by end consumers.

The greatest change, if only due to the resulting economic impacts on sales companies, was caused by the conclusion of the process started by resolution ARG/gas 47/10. The resolution in question started procedures for redefining the methods of determining the terms and conditions for the supply of natural gas to protected categories, due to the changed international context of the natural gas market, which is characterised by increased liquidity. These procedures concluded with the adoption of resolution ARG/gas 89/10, which modified the formula for calculating the QE (energy rate - the component covering raw material procurement costs), which significantly cut the reference value for calculating updates, by 7.5 percent, starting from 1 October 2010.

In the electricity sector, the main regulatory changes involved the introduction, with resolution ARG/elt 13/10, of provisions concerning standards for communications between distributors and sellers of electricity for the provision of high quality commercial services regulated by the TIQE (Consolidated Electricity Quality Act). According to the provisions of this resolution, starting from 1 October 2010 distributors with more than 100,000 end consumers must be equipped with an evolved communications tool (web portal) for managing commercial services requested by sellers. With two subsequent resolutions, ARG/elt 52/10 and ARG/elt 66/10, regarding the provisions of Law no. 99/09, the Authority began the process of qualifying Internal User Grids (RIU). With these provisions, RIU and the operators of said grids were identified. The RIU identified by the Authority include those of Herambiente for the WTE of Forlė and Ferrara. Lastly, with resolution ARG/elt 67/10 the Authority issued a provision regarding tariff regulation of temporary connections to the medium and low voltage grids.

As regards transversal provisions (which regard both regulated sectors) it is important to note resolution ARG/com 104/10 which approved the Commercial Code of Conduct for the sale of electricity and natural gas to end consumers, The Code will enter into force starting from 1 January 2011. It is particularly important to note the introduction of automatic compensation to end consumers, which the seller must provide in the event of failure to comply with the specific standards defined by the Authority.

In continuity with that recorded in 2009, also during the first half of 2010, the Authority produced a significant number of VIS (83 from the beginning of the year). These are procedures linked to inspection and sanction activities against regulated parties. Several VIS also concerned the Hera Group: VIS 15/10, aimed at ascertaining the violation, in the area of electricity distribution, of regulations regarding providing transport users with data on the withdrawal points not treated on an hourly bases; VIS 45/10, which involved HERA Comm, aimed at ascertaining violations in terms of the application of bi-hourly prices to the most protected domestic customers of electricity services; and, lastly, VIS 81/10 which, as a result of the proceedings launched with VIS 100/09, applied a sanction of Euro 50 thousand to HERA S.p.A., as a distributor of natural gas, for the violation of the provisions regarding the application of the correction coefficient K to a single end consumer.

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