An energy veteran is urging the government to disclose details of a consultant report which it used as the basis for a proposed cut in permitted returns for Hong Kong’s power duopoly.
Woo Chi-keung, an expert on the North American energy market and a professor in Hong Kong Baptist University, said the report rendered an ongoing public consultation academic, according to the Hong Kong Economic Journal.
The government is proposing a 6-8 percent return on net fixed assets of CLP and Hong Kong Electric, down from 9.9 percent.
The proposal is subject to a public consultation which runs until the end of June.
Woo criticized the document, saying it lacks transparency.
He said the government should open the process to public scrutiny before any proposal is put before consumers and the power operators.
Woo cited the example of the United States in which the public is allowed to examine and debate such information and the final decision is made by a judge.
The government cited the consultant report in concluding that the risk-free returns of power companies have been decreasing but did not give details.
The Environmental Protection Department, which is leading the government panel in talks with the power suppliers, refused requests for disclosure by HKEJ, saying it might jeopardize future deliberations.
Meanwhile, lawmaker Tang Ka-piu said the power companies will still make a handsome profit even with a lower rate of return.
He said the rate of return should be kept “as low as possible”.
Translation by Vey Wong
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