A model has been chosen to make the gas trade process less complicated and more comprehensible for consumers. All interactions with customers will be performed by the trader – one contract, one receipt and one customer service, leaving technical matters to the transmission system’s operator, as BNN was informed by Economy Ministry.
The first steps towards the opening of the market were made on Monday, 23 January. Support was provided at the Cabinet of Ministers Committee meeting towards the project of rules prepared by Economy Ministry and submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers titled ‘Natural gas trade and consumption rules to ensure important market principles after liberalization’.
A similar solution is being realized for energy trade. Consumer feedback so far has been positive.
Economy Ministry expects competition among traders will make the range of services available to consumers more varied and supplies of natural gas more secure starting from April 2017.
The market for households will open gradually: households that do not want to switch suppliers after April 2017 will remain with the current trader. The price will be set by the Public Utilities Commission. In such cases, the duty to supply gas to households at regulated prices lies with the public trader. Latvijas Gāze will remain one until 2019.
Commercial consumers have to pick a trader before 15 June to sign a supply contract with. If commercial consumers do not pick a trader before 1 July, supplies of natural gas will be provided by their current supplier. After 1 July they will receive the last guaranteed supplies at a price approved by SPRK plus 20%. Considering the Competition Council’s arguments that it is necessary to perform an assessment of the centric model, including financial risk division between the gas trader and transmission system operator, Economy Ministry has proposed performing such an analysis before 2018.
Economy Ministry, Public Utilities Commission, Consumer Rights Protection Centre and Latvijas Gāze will again perform a careful assessment of regulations that apply to payments between the gas trader and consumers in a situation when it is possible to receive gas without commercial records.
The project of Cabinet of Ministers rules provides clarifications on duties and responsibilities of gas traders, system operator and consumers. Those rules state:
-the order in accordance with which consumers are sold and supplied with natural gas. Requirements for safe use of natural gas, as well as rights and duties for traders, public traders, system operator, consumer and owners of objects that are supplied with gas;
-the order in accordance with which payments are carried out for services, the size of penalties for missed payments, and the order for consumers to change suppliers;
-the order in accordance with which public trader supplies natural gas to associated consumers;
-the order in accordance with which public traders are chosen;
-the order in accordance with which the guaranteed gas supply price is calculated and published in Part 2 of Section 109 of the Energy Law for the aforementioned consumers.