Legal Aspects of Energy Efficiency in Russia

Mikhail Divovich, General Director, ECOTEAM

The Federal law N 261-FZ “On Energy Efficiency” was adopted on 23 November, 2009. This law substituted one adopted in 1996 (“On energy saving”).

 Some measures required by the new law in the field of energy saving and energy efficiency had already have been incorporated in the earlier legislation. The Following measures of state regulation were implemented by the old federal law (1996) and were among those maintained in the 2009 law:  energy inspection of enterprises including obligatory inspection, and state control of compliance with the energy efficiency legislation requirements.

In some cases previous legal norms were adjusted to the present legislation and became more specific and got more importance. Thus the old law’s requirements for avowal or obligatory certification of energy consumption products were converted in the new law into a requirement for some products to have information regarding their energy efficiency class been included in the technical documentation and labelling (article 10). Article 17introduced an ‘Energy Passport’ based on energy inspections results as a legal term together with the rules of collecting and analysis of ‘Energy Passport data’. Article 18 set the requirements for the self-regulated organizations in the field of energy inspection.

Some general articles of the 1996 law have been converted into specific requirements to provide energy efficiency for different types of buildings (article 11), energy saving in apartment buildings and suburban communities (article 12). Energy service contracts also were introduced by anew law in 2009 (article 19).

Features of the new law and especially the legal introduction of an energy service contract gave a real start to the whole energy efficiency sector whereas the previous law was sadly only a false start.

Law enforcement practice in the field of energy efficiency is still developing, but the way it will go can be predicted now. Analysis of the 2009 law’s structure shows its similarity to those in the EHS (environment, health, safety) field. It is especially similar to environmental legislation. Even the terminology looksidentical:environmental efficiency / energy efficiency; environmental passport / energy passport, and more Academic articles on energy efficiency law are written by established specialists in environmental law.

So, if the energy efficiency law goes the same way the environmental law went we can expect similar results. Then energy efficiency would be just another useless burden for the enterprise and an additional opportunity for the officials’ corruption. Law enforcement practice also may follow that of environmental law. Activity in the field of energy efficiency may repeat the fate of environmental protection activity which is now suffering from a formal but false approach.

The Implementation of energy efficiency law, instead of being a real and useful activity will impose additional burdens on enterprises in the forms of:

  • More Documentation;
  • Inspections by state authorities;
  • Litigation inviting fines.

These types of activities are much easier for the state to formalise than to stimulate a real increase in energy efficiency which indeed mostly depends on the management’s political will.

Now in the EHS field of law we see the same trends have already started. There is a burden of Documentation developing which is obligatory for enterprises. Systematic inspections are obligatory for state officials and inspection inevitably leads to fines. If an official did not impose a fine he would face the prosecutor’s suspicion that he has been bribed. This is of course the complete opposite to real corruption fighting.

Real energy efficiency could be reached better by civil means. The Smart owner or manager is interested without outside stimulus to use less expensive energy and save money. He does not need any additional administrative control. So far administrative control measures incorporated in the energy efficiency law look more or less formalities, with fines.

  • Enterprises need to make energy efficiency a part of the EHS sphere to solve all problems systematically, including their environmentaland safety aspects.
  • In energy efficiency law, the practical reality of enforcement in environmental law should be considered carefully.
  • Any and all unfair formal results of state inspection sand fines should be capable of appeal.

It is essential to work with the legislators to exclude or at least minimize the formal part of energy efficiency law.

The way the law enforcement practice in the energy efficiency will go - administrative or civil - depends largely on the efficiency of businesses including AEB and its members as one of the interested parties in arguing for good, effective practice, not burdensome and ineffective legislation.