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Energy declaration instead of energy audit

The purpose of the new legislation act  was the “reduction of energy resources consumption by budgetary organizations in order to diminish the financial burden on budgets of all levels.”  The document complements the list of state authorities’ powers in the field energy efficiency enhancement. Now they are entitled to establish requirements for local programs for energy conservation and energy efficiency.

Last spring, the Prime Minister of Russia Dmitry Medvdev pointed out that the country is far from leadership in the sphere of energy efficiency, while Russia has a huge potential in that.

According to Deputy Minister of Energy of Russia Anton Inyutsyn, it is not all not so bad: over the past four years of work of the Ministry of Energy of Russia, regions, enterprises and citizens have reduced the energy intensity of the country's economy by 11.5%. And this result, in his opinion, was reached at the account of active realization of the 261 Federal Law “On Energy Saving and Enhancement of Energy Efficiency” all over the country.

Last April, the RF Government approved the Complex Plan on the enhancement of the energy efficiency of the Russian economy  along with a list of events targeted at “the reduction of the energy intensity of the gross domestic product by no less than 1.5% annually until 2030, and also on the reduction of Russia’s technological backwardness as compared to the leading countries.”  

The Law signed by the President in 2018 looks like “optimization and division of powers of executive authorities in the field of energy conservation and energy efficiency” declared in the Complex plan.  It also develops the sections of this plan, such as “Activities on the reduction of organizations’ losses in the transfer of energy resources” and “Activities on the improvement of energy efficiency in the consumption of energy resources.”

The new document makes energy surveys, i.e., energy audits, voluntary; however, the state authorities, including local self-government, will be required to submit annual declarations on the consumption of energy resources to the RF Ministry of Energy.

Administrative responsibility is introduced in case of a failure to submit a declaration on the use of energy resources, failure to comply with the requirements to the form of the declaration, or violation of the procedure for its submission, as well as for non-compliance with the rules for the information submission. For holding an energy audit, it is not necessary any more to engage experts; among other options, it can be produced on its own. That means, in a point of fact, that the state now does not care how and with whom you conduct an audit or whether you conduct it at all: the main thing is to report on saving resources, and do that timely and in due form.

The law obliges state and municipal institutions “to ensure reduction in the comparable amounts of diesel and other fuel consumed by them, black fuel oil, natural gas, heat energy, electricity, coal and water in accordance with the requirements set by the RF Government.” Parameters and reference points of energy saving are to be determined at the governmental level later.

Pavel Zavalny, Chairman of the Committee on Energy of the State Duma, commented on the legislative changes: “The principles of energy saving and energy efficiency, proclaimed by the authorities more than a decade ago, brought to the fact that state companies had to conduct appropriate surveys of their facilities on a regular basis. These energy surveys had often been carried out just to ‘mark the box’, because there were no funds in the budget to carry out the required activities. The budget funds were spent with no factual result.” As the expert believes, only activities carried out no just to ‘mark the box’ can bring real cutback of the resources.  

This way, according to the new law, the authorities will not give up the control on the energy efficiency. If a federal or municipal organization requests large amounts for payment of energy bills, it will have to justify this by an energy declaration prior to requesting funds for the maintenance of the organization. Initiators of the law believe that energy control organized in such way will show a more objective situation and will motivate for the reduction of energy consumption in a more efficient way than obligatory energy audit.

“Since 2013, we have been carrying a broad energy efficiency campaign in RF regions; namely,  ‘Energy efficiency is the biggest, cleanest, and cheapest source of energy in Russia’,” says Olga Senova, Head of the Climate Secretariat of the Russian Social and Ecological Union. “Our data shows that the energy efficiency potential in the country is enormous, especially in the sphere of energy efficiency of buildings, both in construction and exploitation. The measures targeted at  the collection of information (energy audits, installation of counters, etc.) brought to a clear positive effect, but as a whole, it proved to be quite insignificant for the energy consumption sector as a whole. We disseminate information and provide consultations to various groups of citizens, and we can see high demand for the measures on energy efficiency. However, the new law has no statutes that would cardinally increase the energy efficiency in Russia. It is quite doubtful that voluntary-compulsory declaring might replace the energy audit and change the situation. Sources of funding for implementation of energy efficiency plans remain unclear, while the amount of investments in this sphere has significantly diminished in the recent years.”