Discussions will start next year with the two electricity utilities, CLP and HKE Next year could mark a turning point for Hong Kong's electricity market following the government's promise yesterday to float a proposed regulatory roadmap for public discussion. Stephen Ip Shu-kwan, Secretary for Economic Development and Labour, told legislators the roadmap would include a number of regulatory options given the existing scheme of control agreement was due to expire in 2008. Options included increased interconnection between utility companies CLP Holdings (CLP) and Hongkong Electric Holdings (HKE) - and even between Hong Kong and neighbouring Guangdong - as well as the split of power generation from transmission and liberalisation of the electricity market to encourage competition. 'We will look at all possible options,' Mr Ip said. 'But we must stress that our policy is to ensure reliable supply at reasonable tariffs.' The government would began talks next year with CLP and HKE on increased interconnection and consult the public following the recent conclusion of a feasibility study, he said. Legislators criticised the administration for spending five years looking at the interconnection issue, with issues such as core regulatory, financial and legal factors not studied. 'The interconnection study was started in 1997, then a preliminary study was finished in 1999 and the technical study was completed recently, but the core issues have not been looked into yet. What a waste of time,' Democrat Fred Li Wah-ming said. Rejecting Mr Li's criticism, Mr Ip said the government had taken the initiative to look at the post-2008 regulatory regime. Without obtaining the mutual agreement of CLP and HKE, the government is unable to unilaterally change the scheme of control agreement. Critics said the scheme was outdated and encouraged power firms to boost profits by overbuilding electricity assets and raising tariffs.