Bulgaria's parliament decided on Thursday to freeze the prices of electricity, heating and water for households at their current levels until the end of March 2022 in an attempt to alleviate the pressure of rising energy bills during winter months.
A total of 132 members in the 240-seat parliament supported the freeze in a revote of their Wednesday's decision which did not say when the ban on price hikes will end. The vote was streamed live on the website of the parliament.
Earlier this week, the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC) proposed an 11.5% increase of regulated electricity prices on average and an average 12.8% hike of heating prices as of January 1, 2022.
The state-owned Electricity System Operator together with power distributors CEZ Bulgaria, EVN Bulgaria, and Energo-Pro Varna said in a joint statement late on Wednesday that the parliament's approval of a moratorium on power price hikes until the end of March can lead to a collapse of the entire energy system and Bulgaria's economy.
According to the statement, power distributors have been experiencing liquidity shortages since September due to the steep rise in prices on the energy exchange, where they are purchasing electricity at market prices to cover their technological costs. The risk of companies not being able to make payments in the production-transmission-distribution-supply chain is real, the power distributors warned.