Business Energy Consumers to Protest Electricity Price Hike

Business » ENERGY | June 19, 2014, Thursday // 15:30
Bulgaria: Business Energy Consumers to Protest Electricity Price Hike Photo by BGNES

Bulgaria's business energy consumers have threatened to stop paying electricity bills if the energy watchdog DKEVR approves a proposal increasing prices.

In an open letter to the Bulgaria's energy watchdog DKEVR, four major organizations representing a range of companies have expressed their indignation at have warned a number of ventures could be forced to close down or make severe job cuts, Bulgarian daily Sega reports.

The unions involved are the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), the Bulgarian Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (BFIEC), the Bulgarian Association of Metallurgical Industry (BAMI) and the Bulgarian Chamber of Mining and Geology (BCMG).

"One should decide what we are to do - whether it is to produce and export or it is something else" BFIEC member Konstantin Stamenov was quoted as saying.

Signatories of the letter believe if electricity prices are pushed up, this will also hurt small and medium enterprises.

They have also warned against the practice of exporting electricity at lower prices than those set for domestic consumption.

"Instead of taking steps to boost growth, through exporting energy at preferential prices we provide stimuli to economies of neighboring countries. Export of neither raw materials nor energy does not create added value in Bulgaria's economy," the letter says.

Ivanka Dilovska, from the Institute for Energy Management, has however argued the businesses' refusal to pay "will turn the crisis [in the energy sector] into a disaster."

She has suggested that a "brave" move is needed in DKEVR to raise energy prices for households. 

The energy sector in Bulgaria is considered to be in a dire financial state, with the state-owned National Electricity Company (NEK) running a debt worth hundreds of millions of BGN.

This also triggered a bitter dispute between DKEVR and the electricity distribution companies (EDCs) which could have resulted in suspending their licenses to operate in the country, but ended in huge fines imposed on the power distributors.

Some experts have warned the socialist-led cabinet keeps energy prices artificially low to avoid rising disgruntlement like the one in 2013, which toppled center-right GERB's government in early 2013.

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Tags: GERB, DKEVR, BIA, BFIEC, BAMI, BCMG, EDCs, NEK, electricity
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