European Communities (Internal Market in Natural Gas) (No. 2) Regulations, 2004

JurisdictionIreland
CitationIR SI 452/2004

Contents

1.

Citation.

2.

Definitions.

3.

Saver.

4.

Definitions (Gas Act 1976 and Act of 2002).

5.

Public Service Obligations.

6.

Consumer Protection.

7.

Authorisation Procedures.

8.

Gas Capacity Statement.

9.

Code of Operations.

10.

Natural Gas Licences.

11.

Unbundling of Accounts of Natural Gas Undertakings.

12.

Functions of the Commission.

S.I. No. 452 of 2004.

EUROPEAN COMMUNITIES (INTERNAL MARKET IN NATURAL GAS) (NO. 2) REGULATIONS 2004.

I, DERMOT AHERN, Minister for Communications, Marine and Natural Resources, in exercise of the powers conferred on me by section 3 of the European Communities Act 1972 (No. 27 of 1972), and for the purpose of giving effect to Directive No. 2003/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 2003 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 98/30/EC1 , hereby make the following regulations:

Citation

1. These Regulations may be cited as the European Communities (Internal Market in Natural Gas) (No. 2) Regulations 2004.

Definitions

2. In these Regulations—

“Act of 1999” means the Electricity Regulation Act 1999 (No. 23 of 1999);

“Act of 2002” means the Gas (Interim) (Regulation) Act 2002 (No. 10 of 2002).

Saver

3. An authorisation, application, licence, designation, decision, determination, direction, consent, notice, notification, order or regulation made, granted or issued under the Gas Act 1976 , the Act of 1999 or the Act of 2002 in force immediately before the making of these Regulations continues in force after such making as if made, granted or issued under the Act concerned as amended by these Regulations.

Definitions (Gas Act 1976 and Act of 2002)

4. (1) Section 2 of the Gas Act 1976 is amended—

(a) by inserting after the definition of “land” the following:

“‘LNG’ means liquefied natural gas;”,

and

(b) by substituting for the definition of “natural gas” the following:

“ ‘natural gas’ means any gas derived from natural strata (whether or not it has been subjected to liquification or any other process or treatment) and in this Act, a reference to natural gas may also be construed as including, where the Commission considers it appropriate and where, in the opinion of the Commission, such gas may be technically and safely injected into, and transported through, the natural gas system, biogas, gas from biomass and other types of gas;”.

(2) Section 2(1) of the Act of 2002 is amended—

(a) by inserting after the definition of “functions” the following:

“‘LNG’ means liquefied natural gas;”,

and

(b) by substituting for the definition of “Directive” the following:

“‘Directive’ means Directive 2003/55/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 26 June 20031 concerning common rules for the internal market in natural gas and repealing Directive 98/30/EC2 ;”.

Public Service Obligations

5. Section 21 of the Act of 2002 is amended by substituting for subsection (1) the following:

“(1) The Minister, following consultation with the Commission and such interested parties as may be determined by the Minister, may by order direct the Commission to impose on such classes of natural gas undertakings as may be specified in the order in the general economic interest, public service obligations which may include security, including security of supply and technical or public safety, regularity, quality and price of supplies, and to environmental protection including energy efficiency and climate protection. Any obligations imposed shall be clearly defined, transparent, non-discriminatory and verifiable.”.

Consumer Protection

6. The Act of 2002 is amended by inserting after section 21 the following:

“Consumer Protection

21A.—(1) It shall be a function of the Commission to ensure that—

(a) there is a high standard of protection for all final customers in their dealings with natural gas suppliers;

(b) all final customers are supplied with natural gas of a specified quality at reasonable prices;

(c) there are dispute resolution mechanisms in place for users of the natural gas system and their final customers;

(d) there are adequate safeguards to protect vulnerable customers (including the elderly and disabled) which shall include measures to help such customers avoid disconnection;

(2) The Commission may give such directions as it considers necessary to carry out its functions under subsection (1).

(3) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) the Commission shall—

(a) require, through licence conditions, that shippers and suppliers shall each, in a form approved by the Commission, develop, publish, adhere to and keep up to date a customer charter (in this section referred to as a ‘customer charter’) in respect of household customers. The content of the customer charter shall be reviewed by the supplier and shipper concerned at regular intervals and approved by the Commission,

(b) ensure that suppliers provide all household customers with the customer charter referred to in paragraph (a) following its approval by the Commission.

(4) The customer charter shall set out conditions regarding the supply of natural gas to household customers and these conditions shall be fair, transparent, readily accessible and given in clear and comprehensible language in advance of the making of a contractual commitment.

(5) The conditions in the customer charter shall, at least, include conditions which provide that all households customers—

(a) are informed of their statutory rights to be supplied with natural gas of a specified quality at reasonable prices and have a right to a contract with a natural gas supplier which contract includes the—

(i) identity and address of that supplier,

(ii) services to be provided,

(iii) service quality levels offered as well as the time for the initial connection,

(iv) types of maintenance service, if such service is offered,

(v) means by which up-to-date information on all applicable tariffs and, if offered, maintenance charges may be obtained,

(vi) methods of payment of bills by final customers,

(vii) duration of the contract,

(viii) conditions for renewal and termination of services or the contract or both including connection and disconnection of final customers,

(ix) existence of any right of withdrawal by either party,

(x) contact details for customer service and details of complaints mechanism offered by the supplier,

(xi) compensation and the refund arrangements which apply if contracted service quality levels are not met,

(xii) method of initiating procedures for settlement of complaints,

(xiii) quality and specification of the natural gas supplied,

(xiv) provision of services to vulnerable customers including the elderly and disabled,

(xv) maintenance of a register of vulnerable customers, including those who by reason of the age or health of a person in the household require a priority service, and

(xvi) emergency gas service contact number;

(b) have the right to the information referred to in paragraph (a) prior to the conclusion or confirmation of the contract;

(c) are given adequate notice of any intention to modify contractual conditions and are informed about their right of withdrawal when the notice is given;

(d) are notified directly of any increase in charges, at an appropriate time no later than one normal billing period after the increase comes into effect;

(e) receive fair and transparent information on applicable prices and tariffs and on standard terms and conditions, in respect of access to and use of natural gas services;

(f) are offered a wide choice of payment methods and where there is any difference in terms and conditions arising from choice of method of payment, such difference shall reflect the costs to the supplier of the different payment methods;

(g) shall be protected against unfair, misleading or predatory selling methods;

(h) shall be facilitated, if they so wish, in changing supplier and are not charged or penalised for doing so; and

(i) shall benefit from transparent, simple and inexpensive procedures for dealing with their complaints and such procedures shall enable complaints to be settled fairly and promptly with provision, where warranted, for a system of reimbursement and compensation.

(6) The Commission shall also ensure that where contracts are concluded through intermediaries, the requirements of paragraphs (3), (4) and (5) are met, where relevant, prior to the conclusion of the contract.

(7) A shipper or supplier who fails to comply with a direction under subsection (2) or a requirement made of it by the Commission under subsection (3) is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding €3,000.

(8) Summary proceedings for an offence under subsection (7) may be brought and prosecuted by the Commission.

(9) In this section a reference to a household customer includes a person proposing to become a household customer of the supplier concerned, and who has or is entitled to have a connection to the natural gas system.

Resolution of Disputes

21B.—(1) The Commission shall establish comprehensive, easily accessible, transparent, fair, independent and simple dispute and complaint arbitration mechanisms for any final customer having an unresolved complaint with the holder of a natural gas licence or an intermediary of such a licence holder.

(2) Expenses properly incurred in the discharge of the obligations referred to in subparagraph (a) are deemed to be expenses properly incurred for the purposes of paragraph 16 of the Schedule to the Act of 1999.

(3) The Commission shall issue determinations and directions in writing regarding its decision on the matter in dispute (including, where appropriate, the payment of compensation) and the licence holder...

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