Bulgaria Coalition Partners to Back Ivan Ivanov as Energy Committee Head
The main coalition partners in Bulgaria's government have agreed to support the candidacy of Ivan Ivanov, an energy expert and former lawmaker, to take over the national energy regulator KEVR.
The Commission for Energy and Water Regulation, which was renamed in February (its previous acronym DKEVR indicated it was state-owned) is to have new leadership after Parliament amend the Energy Act last month.
KEVR's members are now to be voted by Parliament, and not unilaterally appointed by the cabinet, in a move the ruling axis says will reduce "political pressure" on the watchdog.
DKEVR has been involved in a number of political and economic scandal in the past few years, due to speculation that keeps a tight grip on electricity prices at the behest of the government and contributes to excessive regulation on Bulgaria's energy market.
In 2013 the electricity price hike that it approved resulted in heftier bills for consumers whose street protests led to the resignation of PM Boyko Borisov during his first term in office.
Last year, the regulator was involved in a bitter dispute with power grid operators over their alleged debts to the National Electricity Company (NEK).
Legal changes to procedures and regulations of KEVR are likely to require the appointment of a new head. Ivan Ivanov, who now stands chances to take over from Svetla Todorova, is affiliated to the right-wing Reformist Bloc, the junior partner in Bulgaria's governing coalition, and in previous legislatures was MP from the Democrats for Strong Bulgaria (DSB), one of the RB's leading parties.
The main ruling party GERB says it will back his candidacy, according to former Energy Minister and Energy Committee chief in Parliament Delyan Dobrev.
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