The Russian prime minister has signed a resolution in the State Duma concerning the introduction of a package of legislation to reform the power industry. The package will include a new electricity law and changes to the civil code, the tax code, the anti-monopoly law, the law governing electricity tariffs, the law on competition and the law on energy conservation.

The aim of the legislation is to establish a framework for the restructuring of the electricity sector and to introduce a new pricing structure. One of the key changes will transfer regulation of the transmission and distribution of electricity from the regional to the federal level. There is also expected to be legislation to allow competition in the generation and supply of electricity.

Now the new legislation has been introduced – it was due in December 2001 – analysts expect the government to face active resistance within the Russian Duma.

The Economic Development and Trade Ministry plans to submit a plan to the government this month to create 10 large generating companies, including four hydroelectric specialists. This will involve merging a number of power plant operators and regional energy companies.

Meanwhile a group of scientists, energy ministry officials and energy experts have criticised the Russian Unified Energy System (UES) which they accuse of planning to carry out its own reform of the energy sector without government approval. The critics claim that the UES is planning to force through reforms, restructuring all its subsidiaries by October even if the legislative basis for reform has not been established.

The UES appears unconcerned by the criticism, as are analysts. There is speculation that the criticism is part of a political power play within the UES and the government.