8 Aug 2016

Utility providers call for legislative change

2:11 pm on 8 August 2016

The region's utility providers are calling on governments to reform legislation to encourage private investment in the energy sector.

Over 200 delegates attended a conference in Tonga last week on how to maintain the momentum towards renewable energy sources and extend greater coverage through the islands.

Maama Mai Solar Facility, Tonga Power Limited.

Tonga Power Limited's Maama Mai Solar Facility. Photo: Tonga Power Limited.

Around 7 million people cannot access electricity in the Pacific, although this is skewed by the larger populations of Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu.

The Pacific Power Association's executive director, Andrew Daka, said government's can't afford to sustain utilities on their own, and investment was needed through public-private partnerships.

Mr Daka said the energy sector was characterised by outdated and unclear legislation.

"A lot of the regulatory issues have not been updated as such as it should in utility operations as we speak. Most of that is outdated and relevant for a period when most of that was part of the government infrastructure and now with the changing energy markets, there needs to be reform."

Andrew Daka said increased government involvement is planned at a follow-up conference to ensure they hear the calls for change.