The ever-elusive date for opening up the electricity market appears to have been pushed back to 2023, as among other things the necessary legal regulations have yet to be passed by parliament.

Lawmakers at the House energy committee on Tuesday said the much-touted liberalisation of the market now looks like happening by the middle of next year.

The committee expected to be briefed on the issue by the government, but that briefing was postponed. MPs heard, however, that they should expect the government to table the relevant regulations “imminently.”

A key regulation relates to rendering the Transmission System Operator (TSO) a completely independent agency so that it can act as market operator. The TSO currently relies on seconded staff from the state-run power utility – a stakeholder which also holds a virtual monopoly in the market.

Other than the legal regulations pending, technical issues remain – such as the TSO still facing problems related to the software system that would run the energy exchange platform. Earlier, the TSO had promised these issues would be straightened out by the end of the year.

The platform for the Competitive Electricity Market (CEM) will include financial markets of the stock market type, which are the futures market and the day-ahead market, but also other types of markets, such as the real-time balancing market ensuring the energy balance between production and demand.

According to Disy MP Kyriacos Hadjiyiannis, the opening up of the market should occur within the next “four to five months.”

The legislator expressed the hope that energy prices will drop once this happens. Businesses would be able to generate electricity, either with conventional fuel or renewables which they divert into the system. And consumers would get to choose their provider based on the lowest available price.

Hadjiyiannis said that already private energy producers are offering contracts to large consumers (businesses) at rates approximately 10 per cent lower than those offered by the Electricity Authority of Cyprus.

But the contracts cannot be activated until the official liberalisation of the market.

Originally, the market was due to have been opened up in July 2014; it was then put back to July 2016, then July 2019, then December 2020, and most recently October 2022.