Turkish parliament accepts gov’t bill amending electricity law despite opposition

Turkish parliament accepts gov’t bill amending electricity law despite opposition

Turan Yılmaz - ANKARA
Turkish parliament accepts gov’t bill amending electricity law despite opposition

AA photo

A government-sponsored bill that will force “consumers” to pay for leakage and losses in electricity and will annul several environmental and agricultural regulations in a bid to ease investment conditions for power plant construction was accepted by Parliament’s General Assembly early June 4 despite protests by opposition parties and environmental groups. 

The opposition attempted to obstruct discussions of the bill over objections to the legalization of the distribution of costs stemming from losses to 36 million subscribers.

According to the law, Turkish consumers will continue to pay several prices on their electricity bill for retail sale services and the use of transmission and distribution systems, as well as for leakages and losses in electricity. 

An MP from the Republican People’s Party (CHP), Tacettin Bayır, said 33 billion Turkish Liras had been paid to electricity companies under the heading of “costs of leakages and losses” from 2006 to 2014, while the government made 39 billion liras during the same period through privatizations.

Bayır noted that the leakage loss usage of six provinces was four times the amount of power produced by the Atatürk Dam, the largest of its kind in Turkey.

According to the new law, any privatization tenders for the construction of renewable power plants or thermic power plants based on local coal reserves by the Turkish Electricity Generation Corporation (EÜAŞ) or the accompanying partnerships will be made on a bargaining method in a bid to set the electricity price. A number of laws that limit the construction of power plants in line with security, environmental, agricultural and tourism reasons will no longer be applicable. 

Private immovable properties can be expropriated immediately if they are designated as renewable energy fields, according to the new law. 

The number of Energy Market Regulatory Authority (EPDK) members has also been decreased from nine to seven with the law. 

Following the approval of the new bill, a number of environmental groups voiced their concerns in a joint statement. 

“The policies that increase the share of coal in power generation need to be abandoned [in favor] of new policies which will raise energy efficiency and renewable energy. We have been deeply concerned about the regulatory updates which will put electricity prices under pressure, make it difficult for the sector to adapt to the latest technologies, such as smart gridding, and threaten agricultural and food security. With the new law, the purchasing guarantees for the electricity which will be generated by local coal-fired power plants will also be offered easier access to the grid,” they said.