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NEA taking on new roles

By Chen Dujuan (Global Times)

08:21, March 11, 2013

China unveiled a plan Sunday to restructure its National Energy Administration (NEA) to improve the administrative and supervisory system of the energy sector, with stated goals of promoting the development and reform of the sector and enhancing energy supervision and management.

The new NEA will incorporate the functions of the current State Electricity Regulatory Commission (SERC), and the SERC will be shut down, according to a report on the institutional reform of the State Council delivered to the annual session of the National People's Congress.

The major responsibilities of the new NEA will be supervising the energy sector, researching suggestions for energy reform, and drafting and implementing energy development strategies, plans and policies, the report said.

After the reform, the new energy administration will still be under the management of the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), China's top economic planner and regulator, which is responsible for coordinating energy planning with the planning of national economic and social development, the report said.

A spokesperson for the State Commission Office for Public Sector Reform answered questions on the energy restructuring Sunday, saying that the supervision of electricity has been independent from the NEA, which has caused an overlap in responsibilities between the SERC and the NEA in terms of electricity reform, investment access, project approval and pricing.

Energy's importance in the national economy has been increasingly highlighted, so a powerful department is needed to enhance energy reform and adjust the structure of the energy sector, Han Xiaoping, chief information officer at energy portal, told the Global Times Sunday.

"We need to promote the development of clean energy such as natural gas, which will definitely affect the interests of coal-related industries, and the consolidated administration will be a powerful department to carry it out," Han said.

Both the NEA and the SERC have been researching policies for energy reform, and their incorporation will combine experienced professionals to further promote reform in the sector, he noted.

It will become easier to supervise electric operations and safety when the SERC belongs to the NDRC, which is a powerful organ, but it will not bring big changes to the energy sector, Lin Boqiang, director of the Center for Energy Economics Research at Xiamen University, told the Global Times Sunday.

Lin also expressed his concerns over the future of electricity market reform.

"The SERC has enthusiasm for reform, and its establishment showed the country's ambition for and confidence in the reform of the electricity sector, but after it is dissolved, the prospect for reform will be unclear. It might mean that the country now thinks differently about energy reform," he said.

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