Bulgaria's Energy Watchdog to Go On with Power Price Hike
Energy regulator KEVR's head Ivan Ivanov has said that his agency will not backtrack on plans to increase power prices for industrial consumers by up to 20%.
"Until now [household and industrial] consumers were not put on an equal footing, since businesses and the free market paid two times less than household users.. What KEVR has to do is to introduce this equality," Ivanov explained in an interview with private national NOVA TV channel on Monday.
"This is [how things are] in Europe, and this prepares the Bulgarian electricity market for the energy exchange, where fees and "liabilities to society" [taxes] cannot exist," he added.
Ivanov's comments come against the backdrop of plans by KEVR, the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation, to push up power prices which was fervently attacked by businesses and by the government itself.
On July 26 over 1000 companies with production facilities in Bulgaria took part an hour-long national strike to protest the planned increase.
This resulted in KEVR putting off a final decision on prices, but voting a slight increase that will be in force from August.
Government officials sought last week to offer an alternative proposal which would prevent a price hike by forcing energy producers to contribute to a special fund (the newly set up Energy Security Council) by pouring in 5% of their revenues.
Bulgaria's energy system is marked by a debt burden of more than BGN 3 B (EUR 1.5 B) at the state-owned utility, the National Electricity Company (NEK), and a number of cabinets have been looking into ways to tackle imbalances.
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