Valgerður Sverrisdóttir iðnaðar- og viðskiptaráðherra.
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is a pleasure for me to open this seminar arranged by NORDEL - the Nordic Transmission System Operators being held here this morning. The Nordic countries have had a close co-operation for a long time and it is interesting to see that co-operation is functioning well among the Nordic Transmission Syststem Operators (TSO´s).
Bob Dylan once wrote a song called "The times they are a´changing" and this is surely true today about the restructuring of the energy sector all over the world. As most of you know, The Icelandic Parliament has recently passed a new Energy Bill that will come into full effect on January 1st next year. The aim of the Energy Bill is deregulation of the Icelandic energy sector and to introduce competition in a sector that has for half a century been one of the pillars of the Icelandic economy.
The introduction of the free market environment is seen by the Goverment as an important process that will in the long term have a positive impact on the icelandic economy and living standard of the icelanders. Introducing these changes has not been an easy task due to the complexity of these changes. The debate that has taken place among the stakeholders in Iceland has been mixed to say the least, but I belive that as of now we have the biggest hurdels behind us.
The icelandic power system is unique in many aspects. Due to the fact that Iceland is an island the system is not connected to other systems, it has to rely on it´s own domestic energy production, the power intensive industry consumes about 65% of the 8 TWh (Terawatt) produced, one producer has a dominating position and the expected growth in energy consumtion is about 100 % over the next 5 years. There are some who say that all these unique things will make it difficult for us to introduce a free market environment in this country. I belive that this is not so and according to the progress of working groups and committees I have been monitoring, I am confident that the Icelandic solution on our drawing board will work just as well as in others countries and who knows- It may even be just as unique as our power system.
The first stage of opening the market was activated on July 1st 2003 when the market was opened to those consumers who had an annual consumption of 100 GWh or more. As of next year, those consumers with an installed capacity of 100 kW or more can choose their supplier and as of 2007 the market will be fully opened for all consumers. One of the important tasks yet to be resolved is metering and settlement. It would be interesting to have some feedback during the seminar from the Nordic TSO´s about the solutions implemented and how successful they have been. The experience that the Scandinavian countries have in solving problems that follow in the wake of market opening can hopefully assist us here in Iceland in our work.
I feel confident that this seminar will be useful for all participants. Sharing experince with colleagues is always of use and has proven particularly fruitful in Nordic co-operation.My wish is that you will have an interesting seminar ahead of you this morning.
I declare the seminar open.