Brussels Warns Bulgaria Over Electricity Sector Policy

Brussels Warns Bulgaria Over Electricity Sector Policy

European energy commissioner Guenther Oettinger has sent a warning letter to Bulgaria's energy ministry in connection with the country's policy in the electricity sector, internet portal EurActiv reported. In his letter Oettinger expressed concern over the Bulgarian energy regulator's decision to open procedures to revoke the licences of the three power distributors operating in the country,  EurActiv quoted the commissioner's spokesperson Sabine Berger as saying. Oettinger is also concerned over the lack of progress of reforms in the country's electricity sector, following the recommendations made  by the European Commission and the World Bank last year, Berger added. Oettinger's spokesperson also said that the energy regulator should act independently from the government and market interest, impartially and transparently, adding that disputes between energy companies are to be handled by the commercial courts in the first place. In March the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) said it was notified by state-owned power utility NEK that the outstanding payments of the local power distribution units of Czech companies CEZ and Energo-Pro, and of Austria's EVN to NEK exceed 347.6 million levs ($244 million/178 million euro) in total, and that it would launch a procedure to revoke their licences. The power distributors have said they owe the debt-ridden NEK nothing, claiming that it had failed to pay them the money the were due in compensation for being obliged to buy electricity generated by wind and solar power installations. If the Bulgarian government fails to respect the energy regulator's independence, or if the regulator fails to comply its obligations described in the EU’s Third energy package, the Commission will open an infringement procedure against Bulgaria, Berger concluded.

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