Employers’ Associations, Trade Unions to Renew Protests over New Power Prices in September
The four major employers’ associations in Bulgaria and the two trade unions have issued a list of demands triggered by the new power price hike, warning to renew and intensify protests in September unless the requirements are fulfilled.
Representatives of the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (CEIBG), the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), and the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria (CITUB) and the Podkrepa Labor Confederation met Sunday to discuss steps to oppose what they consider an unfair increase in electricity prices for industrial consumers as of August 1.
The organizations demanded a temporary moratorium on the connection to the power grid of new power plants selling their output at preferential tariffs.
They also called for changes to the Energy Act and for the development of a road map envisaging short-term and long-term reform measures related to the “obligation to society” component of electricity prices.
The power price hike for industrial energy consumers as of August 1 was largely caused by an increase in the “obligation to society” fee for businesses to BGN 38/MWh from a previous rate of BGN 19.93/MWh.
As a result of the measure, households and industrial energy consumers pay an equal “obligation to society” fee, at BGN 38/MWh, as of August 1, 2015.
The previous rate of the “obligation to society” component of household prices of electricity stood at BGN 53/MWh.
Speaking after Sunday’s meeting, CITUB President Plamen Dimitrov underscored that no authority had yet ruled on the legality of the new rate of that specific power tariff component.
BICA Chair Vasil Velev vowed new protests in September, unless the calls of the employers’ associations were heard.
CEIBG Chair Kiril Domuschiev noted that the protest in autumn was bound to be larger and stronger and reiterated his argument that the energy bills of industrial enterprises were not calculated properly.
“It is a fact that the “obligation to society” surcharge in Bulgaria is the highest in the EU,” he stated, as cited by the Focus news agency.
“We want market principles and rules to be applied in the energy sector and we want fraud schemes and theft to stop,” Domuschiev said.
The representative of the four employers’ organizations confirmed their demand for the resignation of the Chair of the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR), Ivan Ivanov, stating that the new power tariffs approved by the watchdog would lead to the loss of jobs, lower incomes, and higher retail prices.
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