ECONOMY

New bills on natural gas and biofuels

The government yesterday tabled two energy bills – on the liberalization of the natural gas market and on the introduction of biofuel – which Development Minister Dimitris Sioufas said creates a new landscape in energy, combined with the major international energy initiatives. The bills tackle issues about the development of competition in the market and in ensuring supplies and provision of public services, while within the next few days a third bill is expected for the liberalization of the electricity market, according to EU directives. «We seek, through our planning and strategy, a leading role in the broader region aiming at the upgrading of the geostrategic position of our country, the attraction of large-scale investments, the creation of new jobs and, of course, a better environment for future generations,» Sioufas said. The main points of the draft law for the deregulation of the natural gas market concentrate around the gradual opening of the market through the determination of new Choosing Customers (those who can select their supplier, provided they consume more than 100,000 megawatt-hours per year), the operation in Greece of other suppliers besides the Public Gas Corporation (DEPA), the foundation of a Hellenic Natural Gas System Operator (DESFA) which inherits the National Natural Gas Transmission System, the licensing for the construction, ownership and operation of independent natural gas systems (ASFA), and the access of users to the transmission system in a transparent way, promoting healthy competition. The bill promoting the production of biofuels and other renewable fuels in Greece establishes the License for Supplying Biofuels for companies wishing to produce and import alternative fuels, sets up a «Program for Biofuel Distribution» with gradually increasing quantities of biofuels being exempt from taxation, and regulates mixing biofuels with crude oil products. The government’s target is for 5.75 percent of fuel used in 2010 to come from alternative sources. «With this initiative we are creating new perspectives for Greek farmers, as the cultivation of energy plants can be a profitable alternative cultivation,» Sioufas said.