The Bulgarian energy regulator’s proposal to curb to 50% the energy that state-owned power utility NEK buys from renewable energy producers at preferential prices is populist and proves political and corporate subordination of the regulator, the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) said.
The State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) proposed on Thursday to the Bulgarian energy minister to table legal amendments so that NEK is not obliged to buy at preferential rates all the energy produced from renewable energy sources, as is under current law.
“The SEWRC serves the anti-European and pro-Russian cores in the country with the goal - destruction of the independent Bulgarian and foreign investors in the energy sector and expropriation of their private capital,” BPVA said in a statement on Thursday.
According to BPVA, the published request is an abdication of the regulator’s responsibility from regulating the energy sector and will lead to the bankruptcy of private renewable energy producers.
Earlier this month, the EU statistics office said Bulgaria posted the lowest electricity price in the EU in the second half of last year. Households paid on average 8.8 euro ($12) per 100 kilowatt hours (kWh) for the period July-December whereas the average price in the EU was 20.1 euro per 100 kWh.
“The political order to artificially keep the price of electricity should be performed even at the cost of a threat to the fiscal stability of the bank system, funded with more than 4.0 billion euro projects in the renewable energy sector,” BPVA added in its statement.
In December, SEWRC decided to cut household electricity prices for the third time last year after in the spring street rallies against electricity bills in the EU’s poorest member state, which protesters saw as inflated, toppled the government of centre-right GERB party.
Also in December, the government decided to impose a 20% charge on revenues from wind and solar power generation as of January 1, 2014. The decision prompted a series of protests by local renewable power producers who described the new measures as "discriminatory", saying they will destroy the small and medium-sized businesses in the energy sector and will halt the process of diversification of energy sources in the country with serious consequences for energy security.
Bulgarian business newspaper Capital Daily said on Friday over 50 local photovoltaic companies are preparing to file a joint complaint at the European Court of Human against Bulgaria’s energy policy. The daily quoted the lawyer who prepares the appeal as saying the government’s policy in the past months has been leading to discriminatory treatment, the limitation of business, and the harming of the commercial image of renewable energy producing companies.
Earlier on Friday, Socialist-led government survived a no-confidence vote sought by the opposition party GERB over its energy policy.