New Act on Energy Efficiency passed in Poland

24.05.2016

On May 20, 2016, the Polish Parliament adopted a new Act on Energy Efficiency (“the new AEE”, “the new Act”) which should be signed by the Polish President in the coming days.

The new AEE would enter into force on October 1, 2016, despite the opposition’s proposals to postpone this deadline to January 1, 2017. The Polish Government argued that the new regulations should apply as soon as possible, because of heavy penalties that might be imposed by the European Commission (EC) for failing to impose Directive 2012/27/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 25 October 2012 on energy efficiency, amending Directives 2009/125/EC and 2010/30/EU and repealing Directives 2004/8/EC and 2006/32/EC (”Directive 2012/27/EU”).

The opposition that proposed the postponement of the moment of entering into force of the new AEE argued that the 3-month delay in entering into force of the new Act was justified by the fact that many entities in Poland who have performed costly investments leading to more rational energy management in accordance with the current Act on energy efficiency of April 15, 2011 would not be able, due to the relatively short deadline, to participate in public tenders for the “white certificates” (i.e. energy efficiency performance certificates issued by the President of the Energy Regulatory Office in Poland for efficiency-supporting undertakings) and trade with them on the Polish Power Exchange (presently enterprises selling energy, heat or gas to end consumers are obliged to obtain and submit a certain number of white certificates for cancellation to meet the requirements of the current AEE Act; otherwise they are obliged to pay a substitution fee).

On the other hand, the Polish Government stated that the new AEE Act should be adopted as soon as possible due to the delay in imposing Directive 2012/27/EU (the deadline elapsed on June 5, 2014) and in fulfilment of the obligations stemming therefrom, i.a. achieving a specified energy savings level by the end of 2020 by means of modernization of energy installations in private and public buildings.

The Polish Ministry of Energy states that the new AEE Act will be more effective and more friendly for citizens, it will provide for more efficient energy usage and will increase the innovativeness of the Polish economy. The new regulations should enable greater competitiveness of Polish entrepreneurs in the EU, in particular those that are considered as highly energy-intensive. A decrease in energy prices, especially heat prices, is forecasted too.

For example, the AEE Act sets forth an obligation of the Minister of Energy to prepare every three years a national plan for energy efficiency that will encompass the description of plans for energy efficiency improvement in different economic sectors, the national aim of energy efficiency, information on energy savings as well as investment support strategies with respect to buildings’ renovation.

Furthermore, the new Act also imposes an obligation on enterprises which acquire a certificate of energy efficiency to perform energy efficiency audits confirming achievement of the planned savings of final energy from completed projects or projects of the same type the aim of which was to improve energy efficiency. Apart from that, the obligation to conduct tenders from which the President of the Energy Regulatory Office in Poland selected projects aimed at improving energy efficiency, for which a certificate of energy efficiency was issued, is repealed. This new regulation will therefore provide for a significant simplification with respect to the procedure of acquisition of energy efficiency certificates.

The AEE Act also foresees regulation according to which the public sector entities will be able to realize and finance undertakings to improve energy efficiency on the basis of an agreement to improve energy efficiency. All Polish authorities will be obliged to seek energy savings and purchase energy efficient products and services as well as locate their services in modernized or new energy efficient buildings.