The so-called Small Power Tripack, i.e. the Act on Amending Power Law and Certain Other Acts of 26 July 2013 (Journal of Laws of 2013, item 984) became effective on 11 September of this year. The amendment to the legislation was forced by complaints being filed against Poland by the European Commission to the European Court of Justice on the grounds of incomplete implementation by Poland of the requirements of the directives on the internal natural gas and electricity markets. The main objection raised by the European Commission with regard to the natural gas and electricity markets was their insufficient liberalisation. If the disputes were ruled against Poland, high financial penalties would be imposed.
The amendment introduces concessions for industrial buyers which consume large volume of electricity as part of their production operations. For many industries, where electricity is a fundamental production input, the electricity cost becomes a key financial expense. The electricity cost comprises inter alia the cost of purchasing the certificate of origin, representing the cost of a system conceived to support generation of electricity in renewable sources and high-efficiency cogeneration. Under the new wording of the statute, industrial buyers are able to obtain themselves a certificate of origin and a cogeneration certificate of origin and present them for cancellation or effect payment of the substitution fee, if in the calendar year immediately preceding the year in which the obligation is fulfilled they consumed at least 100 GWh of electricity and for which the cost of electricity amounts to at least 3% of the value of production. Consequently, depending on what proportion the electricity costs account for in the total costs of production, they are partly not required to present a certificate demonstrating that the electricity has been produced by renewable sources, thus reducing the overall cost of operations. The definition of the industrial buyer has been included in Article 3(20e) of the Energy Law.
One of the more significant new provisions is the so- called gas exchange obligation, i.e. the requirement for companies trading in natural gas to sell a specified percentage of it on a commodity exchange. Pursuant to Article 49b of the Energy Law, a power business trading in gaseous fuels is required to sell at least 55% of methane-rich natural gas injected into the transmission system in the relevant year on commodity exchanges or a market organised by an entity operating a regulated market in Poland within the meaning of the Act on Trading in Financial Instruments of 29 July 2005. Such a solution is aimed at shifting the structure of the gas market towards a competitive market.
Further, the interconnection of renewable electricity micro-installations with the grid has been made easier in a number of ways. The micro-installation has been defined as a renewable energy source of the aggregate installed electrical capacity of up to 40 kW, connected to a power grid of the rated voltage below 110 kV, or of the aggregate installed thermal capacity of up to 120 kW. The generation of electricity in a micro-installation by a natural person who is not an entrepreneur within the meaning of the Act on Freedom of Business Activity and sale of such electricity by such individual is not a business activity within the meaning of that act. The electricity generated by a micro-installation connected to a distribution grid located in an area of operations of a last-resort supplier and offered for sale by that individual must be bought by that supplier. The electricity is purchased at a price equivalent to 80% of the average electricity selling price during the previous calendar year.
The new act also reintroduces the arrangement whereby the Chairman of the Power Regulatory Authority (URE) serves a term of office. The Chairman is appointed by the Chairman of the Council of Ministers from amongst candidates elected in an open and competitive recruitment process. Further, the amending law requires the Minister of Economy to develop a proposal of the national renewable energy action plan until 2020. The act also amends a number of other acts, including the Building Law, Act on Commodity Exchanges, or Public Procurement Law.
Summing up it is worth noting that the amendments under review are but a prelude to the revolutionary changes to take place in the energy law. At the moment work is underway at the Ministry of Economy on a bill that is expected to mark the enactment of three new acts: energy law, gas law, and renewable energy law (the so-called Large Power Tripack). The three statutes are expected to replace the present energy law as well as realigning it with the requirements of the European Union and of the modern power industry.