The essence of the issue:
Today, the main active law regulating Ukraine’s energy efficiency policy at various levels of administration is the Law of Ukraine "On Energy Conservation" dated 1994 (with the latest changes - from October 2020). The law contains several definitions and provisions important in the context of the SPARCS project in general, and the collection of energy consumption and energy saving data in particular:
Thus, the collection, accounting and access to individual consumer energy data is a key and integral part of improving a country’s energy efficiency. Nevertheless, accounting and, in particular, access to this data is limited by gaps and inaccuracies in legislation, especially in regard to the local self-government, which hinders the effective implementation and regulation of energy efficiency in the regions and on the local level.
In the context of access to information on energy consumption of individual private consumers, it is important to link to some technical characteristics of the house that affect energy efficiency, as well as to the approximate location of the house (house, neighborhood). This raises the controversial question of the possibility and feasibility of organized collection of such data, which is the main topic of this article.
Obligations of Ukraine under the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the European Union:
In addition to direct Ukrainian definitions and regulations, Ukraine has also agreed to abide by certain intergovernmental rules by signing in 2014 an Association Agreement between Ukraine, on the one hand, and the European Union, the European Atomic Energy Community and their Member States (hereinafter - the Agreement).
With this Agreement, Ukraine has undertaken serious commitments, in particular “to ensure the gradual alignment of Ukrainian legislation with the EU acquis in accordance with the areas set out in this Agreement and to ensure its effective implementation” and to regulate economic and political issues in all areas of common interest (including energy and energy consumption, as well as environmental issues) based on common pan-European standards and political dialogue and cooperation between Member States.
To fulfill these obligations under the Agreement, the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine № 1106, dated 25.10.2017, approved the Action Plan for the implementation of the Association Agreement. In matters related to energy efficiency, in particular, it is worth emphasizing the tasks № 707 (Legislative consolidation of a new model of state policy in the field of energy efficiency), 708 (Introduction of a mechanism for providing energy and gas supply companies, gas distribution organizations and fuel suppliers of generalized data about final energy consumers at the request of government agencies) and 720(4) (Introduction of requirements for accounting information on energy consumption).
It should be noted that the majority of the tasks set by the Action Plan have not been completed on time and/or in full. In particular, the above-mentioned tasks and the measures envisaged by them. That is why there is a need to make up for the failure of these tasks from the Resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers №1106 at the local level (Lviv), which is one of the main tasks of the teams of NECU and LCC within the SPARCS project.
European precedents according to EU regulations:
In addition to Ukraine’s direct and immediate obligations under the above-mentioned Agreement and Action Plan, there should also be remembered a number of important provisions of European regulations in the field of energy efficiency, accounting of and access to energy efficiency data, adaptation to which is envisaged by the Agreement and the Action Plan directly or indirectly.
The most essential document in this sense is Directive 2012/27/EU. The provisions presented in this document clearly correlate with the tasks and objectives set by the Action Plan and relate, inter alia, to the obligations of Member States to collect information on energy consumption and energy efficiency at the state level, its level of detailization, reporting to higher EU bodies, etc. It is obvious that in order to collect and report the above-mentioned information at the state level, it is necessary to implement an effective system of accounting for such information in the regions and at the local level, as well as to establish a mechanism for its transfer to higher authorities.
Voluntary energy efficiency agreements:
Finland’s experience in implementing state energy efficiency policy offers a potentially useful scenario for regulating the information relationship on the supply of energy consumption and energy efficiency data from businesses (managers of this data) to local authorities (municipalities).
Finland invites local authorities, enterprises and private property entities (hereinafter referred to as the Entities) to conclude fully voluntary energy efficiency agreements with the Ministry of Economy and Employment and the Authorized Energy and Energy Efficiency Authority, which define the obligations of the parties and the ratify Action plans, which set voluntary goals for energy efficiency by Entities, as well as planned measures to achieve them.
For implementation in the city of Lviv, it is proposed to conclude agreements on the supply of energy efficiency and energy consumption data between the municipality and the managers of such data (in agreement with consumers who are direct data suppliers), compiled by analogy with the experience of Finland. This decision coincides with the goals of the SPARCS project to disseminate and replicate the experience of implementing energy efficiency policies between partner cities and countries (especially considering that the Finnish city of Espoo is one of the “Lighthouse Cities” of the project).
There are no individual normative documents regulating access to energy consumption and energy efficiency data in Ukrainian legislation. Instead, the issue of access to any data is addressed in the legislation governing access to data (information) in general. Access to information is regulated by the Laws of Ukraine “On Access to Public Information” and “On Information”, as well as the UNECE Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention). In particular, it should be borne in mind that energy issues are closely linked to the quality of the environment, so that information on energy consumption can help to improve energy efficiency and, consequently, reduce the burden on environmental components, therefore should be easily accessible for citizens, not to mention local authorities.
More specific in this area is the Law of Ukraine “On Features of Access to Information in the Areas of Electricity, Natural Gas, Heat Supply, Centralized Hot Water Supply, Centralized Drinking Water Supply and Sewerage”. The law specifies the competencies of public authorities and economic entities in the field of providing information on prices/tariffs, energy saving measures, the formation and implementation of investment programs in the field of supply, as well as data on actual consumption. However, within the framework of this Law, this information is provided only to consumers. Regulation of the competencies of state bodies in providing data on energy consumption or energy efficiency indicators, as well as information relations of state bodies with business entities (in particular, access of state bodies to the data) is not specified in this normative act.
Lviv City Council (LCC) goals according to internal documents and SPARCS obligations:
The City of Lviv, represented by the Lviv City State Administration and the Lviv City Council, has its own energy saving goals set out in internal regulatory documents.
In particular, the main current document in the field of energy efficiency and energy consumption data is the Program of socio-economic and cultural development of Lviv for 2020-2022, which, among other things, identifies as on of the priority areas Priority III: “Building an efficient and successful city”, which includes task 11: “Daily collection of data on energy consumption of all energy resources by buildings of budgetary institutions of Lviv”. In this sense, clearer goals were set by the Program of Support for Energy Saving Measures for 2017-2019, which noted the need to support the system of daily monitoring and analysis of energy consumption, as well as learning from municipalities of other countries of the formation and approval of energy saving principles and energy efficiency measures (which again coincides with the context of the SPARCS project).
Given the status of Lviv as one of the largest and most progressive cities in Ukraine, regional and cultural center, as well as taking into account its role in the SPARCS project, as a Fellow City and commitments related to this, it should be noted that the city will need revision and updating of certain provisions of the regulatory framework in the field of energy efficiency, and improvement of mechanisms for monitoring and analysis of energy consumption data for effective achievement of project objectives and implementation of energy efficiency.
Technical requirements for solving the issue:
In June-July 2020, two partners-members of the SPARCS project consortium from Ukraine - Lviv City Council (LCC) and Non-governmental organization National ecological center of Ukraine (NECU) - held discussions on technical requirements for the Integrated Information and Analytical Energy Consumption System of Lviv "SPARCS-LVIV". As a result of these discussions, a document was drawn up and agreed upon - the mentioned technical requirements that determine the purpose of the system, the main participants in this process, the requirements for input data, results of system analysis and their display. An important element of this document determines the degree of detail of the data structure required for the efficient operation of the system, the collection of which is crucial in terms of implementing energy saving policies at the city level.
Thus, NECU unequivocally recognizes the need to cut off personal information, such as the names of owners or registered persons, the exact addresses of the houses, to achieve depersonalization of energy consumption information of individual private consumers.
Nevertheless, data on energy consumption and energy efficiency, access to it and its collection by local government agencies are critical to both fulfilling European integration goals and ensuring the economic, energy and environmental interests of every individual citizen of Ukraine. The conducted research proves that the mentioned data cannot be considered exclusively confidential, based on the requirements of the legislation of Ukraine and the EU. Moreover, given the purpose of collecting these data and the justifications under Ukrainian and European legislation given above, energy consumption and energy efficiency data can be considered socially necessary information, as the benefits of its use by local authorities to improve energy efficiency outweigh the potential harm, as well as environmentally sensitive information, considering that energy efficiency and its improvement are directly related to the global environmental problem of climate change.
Thus, ensuring free, convenient and automated access to energy consumption and energy efficiency data (up to the consumer level) at the local government level is legally justified, technically feasible and strategically necessary for the implementation of effective state energy efficiency policy, fulfillment of Ukraine’s international obligations and, in particular, SPARCS project realization and goals achievement.
In this regard, we propose to adapt the experience of Finland on voluntary energy efficiency agreements in Ukraine at the project level for the city of Lviv, to address issues of energy consumption and energy efficiency data collection, taking into account the technical requirements and data structure agreed by the parties, in order to further use them for decision-making, regulation of energy efficiency issues and implementation of local policies in this field.