Bulgarian Ex Energy Minister: No Power Price Hikes by EP Elections
Former Bulgarian Energy Minister Rumen Ovcharov has suggested that electricity prices can remain unchanged by the European Parliament elections in May.
In a Sunday interview for the morning broadcast of Nova TV, he suggested that energy sector deficits had so far been covered through loans of the Bulgarian Energy Holding (BEH) to the National Electric Company (NEK), but the practice could not be sustained as the debt had reached the rate of over BGN 1 B and NEK itself had already run up debts of over BGN 4 B.
He said that NEK was trying to make power distributors cover portions of the deficits, adding that the process would last no longer than a few months and a new solution would have to be designed after that.
"The government technically issued an ultimatum to power distributors, which was a wrong move in contravention of the laws. The Minister and the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) are not part of a whole but two subjects in a supposedly independent process. DKEVR must be an independent authority which balances the interests of the state, the private sector and society," Ovcharov added.
He claimed that one of the reasons for the sector deficits was the expenses of NEK on the Belene nuclear power plant project, which was suspended by the center-right GERB government in favor of a seventh unit of the existing Kozloduy NPP.
"If the Belene NPP was functioning, we would be having an operational N-plant unit which would be paying back the loans which NEK had taken for its construction. As it was not built due to the stupidity of the GERB government, now we have to pay this loan," he argued.
"Power distributors are buying renewable energy and selling it at the same price to NEK. In other words, they are just an intermediary. NEK had not compensated them for renewable energy costs for two years. Power distributors, in turn, resorted to offsetting to patch it up. The fact that DKEVR failed to create conditions allowing NEK to summon the necessary resources to pay power distributors is not the fault of the power distributors," Ovcharov stated.
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