Utility Regulator Consults on Modifications to Gas Licences

Published: 13 August 2007

Consultation opened on 13 August 2007. Consultation closed 14 September 2007.

Summary

NOTICE UNDER ARTICLE 14(3) OF THE GAS (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 1996 (as amended)

Today the Utility Regulator is publishing a statutory notice as folllows:-

NOTICE UNDER ARTICLE 14(3) OF THE GAS (NORTHERN IRELAND) ORDER 1996 (as amended)

The Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (‘the Authority’), in pursuance of its powers under Article 14 of the Gas (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 (‘the Order’), hereby gives notice pursuant to Article 14(3) of the Order as follows:
1 It proposes to make modifications to the conditions applicable to:
1.1 each gas supply licence, as granted under Article 8(1)(c) of the Order, held by -
(i) British Gas Trading Limited
(ii) Bord Gais Eireann
(iii) Coolkeeragh ESB Limited
(iv) Firmus Energy (Supply) Limited
(v) Northern Ireland Electricity plc
(vi) Phoenix Supply Limited
(vii) Premier Power Limited
(viii) Viridian Energy Supply Limited
1.2 each gas conveyance licence, as granted under Article 8(1)(a) of the Order, held by -
(i) BGE UK Limited
(ii) Firmus Energy (Distribution) Limited
(iii) Phoenix Natural Gas Limited
(iv) Premier Transmission Limited
(each hereafter referred to as ‘a Licensee’).
2 It proposes to make modifications to the -
(a) conditions of each gas supply licence held by British Gas Trading Limited, Coolkeeragh ESB Limited, Premier Power Limited, Viridian Energy Supply Limited and Northern Ireland Electricity plc, pursuant to Article 14(1)(a) of the Order;
(b) conditions, including standard conditions, of each gas supply licence held by Bord Gais Eireann, Firmus Energy (Supply) Limited (which holds two gas supply licences) and Phoenix Supply Limited, pursuant to Articles 14(1)(a) and 14(1)(b) of the Order;
(c) conditions of the gas conveyance licence held by BGE UK and by Phoenix Natural Gas Limited, pursuant to Article 14(1)(a) of the Order; and
(d) conditions, including standard conditions, of the gas conveyance licence held by Firmus Energy (Distribution) Limited and by Premier Transmission Limited, pursuant to Articles 14(1)(a) and 14(1)(b) of the Order.
3 The proposed modifications for each gas supply licence differ depending on:
(a) whether the licence incorporates by reference the standard conditions of gas supply licences; and/or
(b) the extent of its authorisation (i.e. the persons/premises to whom supply is authorised under the licence),
however, the package of proposed modifications include (i) modifications to a number of existing conditions, including conditions relating to Interpretation; Separate Accounts; Use of the Network; Supply and Inspection of Meters; Emergencies; and Standards of Performance, and (ii) the inclusion of a number of new conditions including conditions relating to Terms and Conditions of Gas Supply; Provision of Information to Consumers; Approval of the Authority to Licensee’s Arrangements; Marketing of Gas to Household Consumers; Complaints Handling Procedure; Payment of Bills and dealing with Consumers in difficulty; Safety of Supplies, Reading, Inspection and Testing of Meters; and The Supply Meter Point Agreement.
4 The proposed modifications for each gas conveyance licence include (i) modifications to a number of existing conditions, including conditions relating to Interpretation; Separate Accounts; Conveyance Charges and Services; Connections and Connection Charges; and Network Code, and (ii) the inclusion of a number of new conditions including conditions relating to Compliance with System Operator Agreements; Designation of System Operators; Provisions of Information to Relevant Licence Holders; and Business Separation.
Reason
5 The reason for the proposed modifications is to implement the principles and requirements of Directive 2003/55/EC concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas, as provided for by the Gas Order 1996 (Amendment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 2006.
Effect
6 The key effects of the overall package of the modifications proposed for gas supply licences are that Licensees will (as determined by the scope of their licence) be required to –
(a) prepare separate accounts for separate businesses such that they, inter alia, facilitate the avoidance of discrimination, cross-subsidisation or distortion of competition;
(b) comply with each Network Code (as applicable);
(c) prepare and publish standard terms and conditions of gas supply contracts for household consumers which include certain provisions as specified;
(d) ensure that customers are provided with certain specified information relating to consumption and to safety of supplies on at least an annual basis;
(e) modify their applicable arrangements with regard to service quality and compensation provisions if required to do so by the Authority;
(f) ensure that their marketing activities in relation to household consumers meet and are undertaken in accordance with the specified requirements;
(g) establish and operate a transparent and appropriate complaints handling procedure for use by household consumers;
(h) establish appropriate arrangements for assisting customers who may have difficulty in the payment of bills;
(i) ensure that meters are inspected (including a meter read) on a regular basis as specified; and
(j) prepare, maintain and be a party to an agreement designed to facilitate the development, maintenance and operation of appropriate communications for the implementation of appropriate change of supplier processes.
7 The key effects of the modifications proposed for gas conveyance licenses are:
(a) that Licensees will be required to –
(i) prepare separate accounts for separate businesses such that they, inter alia, facilitate the avoidance of discrimination, cross-subsidisation or distortion of competition;
(ii) prepare (and comply) with a Network Code which sets out the terms for the use of their network and which achieves the specified objectives and includes certain specified provisions;
(iii) make revisions to their conveyance and/or connection charges and/or methodologies if and as determined by the Authority
(iv) where required, enter into appropriate system operator agreements relating to the interoperability and interaction of (and between) networks;
(v) provide information, as requested, to other licence holders in respect of the operation and technical specifications relating to their network; and
(vi) ensure the managerial and operational independence of their system operation business from any of their other businesses; and
(b) that disputes relating to conveyance charges and services and connections charges and services can be referred to the Authority for determination.
8 A copy of the proposed modifications can be obtained free of charge from Eimear Smyth at the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation, 14 Queen Street, Belfast, BT1 6ER (Telephone: 028 90 316330; Fax: 028 90 311740).
9 Representations or objections with respect to the proposed licence modifications may be made on or before Friday 14 September 2007 to the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation, 14 Queen Street, Belfast, BT1 6ER.

Copies of the notice will be made available in large print, Braille, audio cassette and a variety of relevant minority languages if required

Notes for Editors

The Utility Regulator is the informal name for the Northern Ireland Authority for Utility Regulation (NIAUR) the regulator of the Electrcity, Gas and Water and Sewerage industries in Northern Ireland. NIAUR’s powers are derived from the Electricity (Northern Ireland) Order 1992, the Gas (Northern Ireland) Order 1996 as amended by the Energy (Northern Ireland) Order 2003 and the Water and Sewerage Services (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.

For further information contact:-

Conall McDevitt, Weber Shandwick Tel: 028 90764911, 07770 886933