Ministerial Decree to determine the geographical areas in the natural gas distribution sector (“Areas Decree”)
The first of four ministerial decrees on natural gas distribution reforms was published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 31 March 2011.
More specifically, the Areas Decree, which was issued by the Ministry of Economic Development in collaboration with the Ministry for Regional Relations and National Cohesion on 19 January 2011, establishes multi-municipality minimum geographical areas (known as ATEMs) for which new gas distribution concessions must be assigned.
The Decree identifies 177 ATEMs relating to provinces, or divided provinces in the case of the most populous ones or large towns and cities. Several neighbouring ATEMs may combine if they wish to do so.
The subsequent Legislative Decree no. 93 of 1 June 2011 established that:
- Local Authorities which, on the date the Legislative Decree, published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale of 28 June 2011, came into force, in the case of an open tender, published notices of invitations to tender, or, in the case of restricted tender processes, also asked for letters of invitation, in both cases including the definition of the bid evaluation criteria and the redemption value to the outgoing operator and had not awarded the winning firm, can proceed with entrusting the natural gas distribution service in accordance with the procedures applicable on the date of the call to tender;
- otherwise, starting from that date, the tenders for entrusting the service will be carried out exclusively for the provinces identified by the Areas Decree.
Ministerial decree to protect jobs when there is a change of gas distribution operator (“Decree protecting employment levels”)
The Decree on employment protection, adopted by the Ministry of Economic Development in conjunction with the Ministry of Work and Social Policy on 21 April 2011 and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 4 May 2011, regulates the social effects associated with the granting of new gas distribution concessions.
The provision includes the obligation, for the incoming operator, to take on the staff of the outgoing operator for the running of gas distribution plants and a quota of the staff who carry out territorial and central functions.
However, in order to avoid opportunistic behaviour by the outgoing operator and obstacles put in the way of operating efficiency, the obligation to hire the staff is limited to a number of employees that is less than a reference value.
Ministerial decree for identifying Municipalities which are part of each of the 177 multi-municipality minimum geographical areas (“Decree for Determining Municipalities for each Area”)
The Decree for determining the Municipalities coming under each Area, adopted by the Ministry for Economic Development in conjunction with the Ministry for Regional Relations and National Cohesion on 18 October 2011 and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 28 October 2011, defines the list of Municipalities belonging to each geographical area of the natural gas distribution sector.
Moreover, when supplying the list of Municipalities, in addition to the name of the Area, indicated in Annex 1 of the Area Decree, the Decree also adds a geographic characterisation, if absent, to facilitate identification.
Ministerial decree for identifying criteria through which area tenders will be held and awarded (“Tender criteria decree”)
The Tender criteria decree, adopted by the Ministry of Economic Development in conjunction with the Ministry for Regional Relations and published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale on 27 January 2012, contains instructions about the requirements for participation, bid evaluation criteria, the compensation figure to pay to the outgoing operator, as well as the “type of call to tender”.
The amount of payment to holders of concessions and licences, when the transition period set out in Legislative Decree no. 164 of 23 May 2000 expires, will be calculated on the basis of what has been established in the agreements or, if this cannot be done, based on the criteria in Royal Decree no. 2578 of 15 October 1925 (industrial value criterion).In the case of a dispute, the outgoing operator will be paid the higher value between the RAB and the value estimated by the local authority, with possible adjustments after the dispute has been resolved. The incoming operator will acquire ownership of the system by paying the outgoing operator the redemption value, with the exception of any parts owned by the local municipality.
Tenders will be awarded based on the most economically advantageous offer with regard to the following criteria:
- economic conditions;
- safety criteria;
- quality of service criteria;
- system development plans.