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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

UES Revamp Legislation Said Ready by September

The head of the commission charged with striking a compromise between the Cabinet and lawmakers on a package of laws needed to overhaul the national electricity network said Monday that the drafts would be ready for the State Duma to consider when it reconvenes in the fall.

"We are moving ahead," said Vladimir Pekhtin, the head of the commission and leader of the Unity party in the Duma. "If we follow the schedule, we will present to deputies an agreed-upon product by the beginning of the fall session. That's what we are striving for," he was quoted by Interfax as saying after the commission met.

The commission, composed of government representatives and members of both houses of parliament, was established to deal with some 600 changes lawmakers wanted to make to the government's blueprint for overhauling Unified Energy Systems.

Pekhtin said the commission had halved the number of amendments up for consideration.

The Duma refused to take up the bills last month and called for negotiations with the government and the creation of a conciliation commission.

At its first meeting on July 17, Duma members of the commission, and later Federation Council senators, accepted the government's blueprint in exchange for a number of conceptual changes.

At its second meeting Monday, the commission split the proposed amendments into five major topics that will be considered by several working groups at closed meetings this week.

On Tuesday, a working group of the commission will discuss the economic model of the industry, including how vertically integrated companies will operate, the wholesale electricity market and the principles of anti-monopoly regulation, Pekhtin said.

On Wednesday, property issues and the retail market will be in focus. Discussions on how the overhaul will affect the relationship between the federal center and the regions are scheduled for Thursday.

The commission intends to consider the results of this week's meetings when it next convenes Aug. 5.

An Economic Development and Trade Ministry spokesman said it should be clear by then which sections of the government's blueprint will need to be amended.

The main issues concerning lawmakers are the role of the government in regulating tariffs and the ownership structure of the new systems operator and spinoff grids, said Anatoly Alksakov, deputy head of the Duma economic policy committee, RIA Novosti reported.

Among the issues that remain contentious is whether UES, the Property Ministry or another body will control the future Federal Grid Co.

Federation Council Deputy Speaker Valery Goreglyad, who is on the commission, said regional representatives are worried they will have little influence in the implementation stage of reform.

The government's point man on the project, Deputy Economic Development and Trade Minister Andrei Sharonov, said that little will be done on reforming UES until the Duma approves the draft laws, which he said would not be until the middle of September.