The Office of the Prime Minister is firing back at the Office of Utilities Regulations, OUR.

A statement from the Office today says the OUR was indeed consulted about amendments to the OUR Act, but partially withdrew from the consultations.

That’s in direct contrast to a statement last week from the OUR, stating clearly that the regulator, “was not apprised of the contents of the bill prior to its passage in the House” on October 13.

According to the OPM, the World Bank was asked to conduct a study looking at best practices for electricity regulation, following concerns by investors about a lack of objectivity in the OUR’s decision making.

The OUR, along with the Electricity Sector Enterprise Team, ESET, the Ministry of Energy and JPS were involved in those consultations on the World Bank study.

The Minister with responsibility for Information, Sandrea Falconer, says in August, the OUR withdrew from participating in the review.

She says the office indicated it would instead engage in written communication.

According to the OPM statement, the OUR is the only stakeholder that still has not provided any written response to the report.

Copies of the report were circulated to stakeholders in June.

The OPM says the OUR has submitted various items for consideration in general over the years, but government decided not to proceed with a comprehensive review of the Act at this time.

When contacted this morning, the OUR’s public education department said they will be responding at a later time.

Meanwhile, the OUR has made a detailed submission to Cabinet, asking them to reconsider some of the changes proposed in the bill.

Speaking on Nationwide This Morning, the OUR’s Director General, Albert Gordon expressed concern that the changes will affect the regulator’s independence.

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Mr. Gordon is referring to a proposed change to the OUR Act that would allow Cabinet to issue policy directions that the OUR would be mandated to follow.

There are other concerns as well.

The government wants to amend the OUR Act to allow representation from stakeholders drawn specifically from the Private Sector Organization, PSOJ and a consumer interest group.

But Mr. Gordon thinks this will allow special interests to influence the OUR’s decision making.

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