Commission continues dialogue with energy and airports sectors on regulatory priorities

The Commerce Commission has published an overview of submissions from the energy and airport sectors on how it should organise its regulatory work programme to take account of emerging issues like New Zealand’s transition to a low-carbon economy and the continuing impact of COVID-19.

The submissions were in response to an open letter published in April and identified a range of issues, several of which the Commission plans to explore in greater detail in a stakeholder workshop to be held later this year.

Commission Head of Energy, Airports and Dairy Andy Burgess said that the submissions gave the Commission a good sense of the headline issues affecting businesses and other stakeholders in these sectors and that it wants to use the workshop to gain a more detailed view of how it can help address these issues through its regulatory work.

“We thank everyone who took the time to set out the issues facing the energy and airports sectors,” he said. “Many of these issues are not a surprise given the prominence of decarbonising the economy and COVID-19 in national conversations.

“Our challenge now is to work out how these issues intersect with our regulation and what work should be prioritised given the Commission’s resources and role in the system. We think a workshop will help progress this and inform our plans for key pieces of work like the review of our regulatory rules and processes for these sectors.”

Mr Burgess said the review of these underlying regulatory rules and processes (called input methodologies, or IMs) for electricity lines companies, gas pipeline businesses, and the three major international airports needs to be completed by the end of 2023. Another key focus of the open letter and the upcoming workshop is a targeted review of the requirements for electricity lines companies to provide information about their performance to the public.

“The open letter and upcoming workshop is not part of the formal consultation on these workstreams,” he said. “But as we prepare to get the work underway it makes sense to get an early view from affected parties to ensure that our consultation captures these emerging issues and identifies pragmatic ways to approach them.”

Views on the reset of the default price-quality path for gas pipeline businesses, which needs to be completed next year, were also called for in the open letter. Work has already commenced on that workstream and the Commission is consulting with industry participants on the relevant emerging issues.

The submissions in response to the open letter and the overview are on the Commission’s website. The Commission will reach out to those who responded and other interested stakeholders with more details on the workshop in due course.

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