Government is seriously considering the merger of the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) and the Energy Commission into one entity to enhance efficiency in regulation of the energy sector, the Deputy Energy Minister designate Mohammed Amin Adam has disclosed.
The move which has been extensively discussed by some key stakeholders in the energy sector is meant to harmonise the technical regulation of the sector being championed by the Energy Commission and economic regulations, which PURC oversees. This is to make energy utility regulation more efficient and dynamic to current needs. It is also meant to attract investors to expand and better operate in the sector.
Speaking at the vetting committee of parliament, Deputy Energy Minister-designate, Dr. Mohammed Amin Adam said, the proposal is one that he would support the Minister of Energy, Dr. Matthew Opoku Prempeh to execute.
“This [merger talks] came up when we commenced discussions on the institutional realignment of the sector. We have too many institutions that are involved in regulating the same industry. Over-regulation is one of the problems of investors. To bring efficiency into the sector, particularly regulation, the need to merge the two institutions came up,” he said.
He likened the move to that of the Petroleum Commission (PC), explaining that the PC regulates the economic and technical aspects of the upstream sector and with the good execution of their job, government believes a merger of PURC and Energy Commission would deliver similar results.
“If we have to align and bring efficiency, in my view it is appropriate. Bringing economic and technical regulation together would lessen the burden investors have to go through to get their licenses and permit. I support that view and would support my minister to look at it,” he added.
He noted that currently, the PURC faces challenges in executing its mandate as it has to on many occasions fall on the Energy Commission to get data and reconcile figures to come up with some critical decisions.
“The economic regulation of the PURC is somehow not comprehensive, sometimes they have to shuffle between the Energy Commission and the PURC to be able to do a comprehensive work and so if we want to avoid over-regulation, then you need an institution where both economic and technical regulation takes place,” he said.
When he was asked by Minority Leader, Haruna Iddrisu if the merger would not compromise the independence of both institutions, Dr. Amin Adam said: “For all the regulatory institutions, their independence is to the extent of their operations. The ministry determines policy directions for them. That would continue to be the case after the two are merged.”
The Public Utilities Regulatory Commission (PURC) was set up as a multi-sectorial regulator by Government in October 1997 under the Public Utilities Regulatory Commission Act, 1997 (Act 538) as part of the utility sector reform process to regulate the provision of utility services in the electricity and water sectors.
Its function is to provide guidelines for rates to be charged for the provision of utility services; examine and approve water and electricity rates; protect the interest of consumers and providers of utility services and monitor and enforce standards of performance for provision of utility services.
It also has the mandate to promote fair competition among public utilities; receive and investigate complaints and settle disputes between consumers and public utility and advise any person or authority in respect of any public utility.
The Energy Commission is a statutory body corporate with perpetual succession and a common seal established by an Act of the Ghanaian Parliament, the Energy Commission Act, 1997 (Act 541). The Commission may sue and be sued in its corporate name.
Its mission is to regulate and manage the development and utilization of energy resources of Ghana to ensure the provision of affordable energy supplies in a reliable, efficient and secure manner in order to promote the social and economic well-being of the people of Ghana, enhance environmental quality and public safety.