Regulating district heating in Romania: Legislative challenges and energy efficiency barriers
Many states in Eastern and Central Europe (ECE) possess extensive district heating (DH) networks that were constructed during the days of communist rule in order to provide a universally accessible energy service that supported Soviet development policies. But the post-communist transition was marked by the exacerbation of the sector's numerous technical, economic, regulatory and environmental problems, accompanied by its abandonment in favour of alternative methods of domestic heating. Recent efforts to increase the use of DH in ECE as a result of environmental and energy security concerns have taken place in an absence of critical, context-sensitive research. The purpose of this paper is to explore the legal aspects of post-communist DH reforms in Romania, with the aim of identifying some of the governance challenges faced by state authorities in managing the sector. In broader terms, we seek to explore the extent to which the Romanian legislative framework is in a position to promote energy efficiency in DH. This has been achieved via an analysis of formal policy documents, government decrees, strategic documents and laws pertaining to this sector, as published and subsequently amended in the Official Gazette. The conclusions of the paper identify the key regulatory issues in the sector--especially with respect to the tariff setting process and the division of competences among different organisations in it--while suggesting a set of policy steps and general restructuring approaches that could help overcome the current situation.
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