Bulgarian Associations of Employers Seek Power Price Freeze by end-2015
Bulgaria’s four major associations of employers have called for a power price freeze by end-2015.
Under the proposal of the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR), industrial consumers of energy face an increase by 13-20% in electricity prices from July 1. The measure has been met with vocal opposition by the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA), the Bulgarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BCCI), the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA), the Bulgarian Federation of Industrial Energy Consumers (BFIEC), and the Confederation of Employers and Industrialists in Bulgaria (BFIEC).
Bozhidar Danev from the Bulgarian Industrial Association (BIA) explained Sunday that the postponement of the planned increase in electricity prices would allow the authorities to plan and implement reforms in the debt-ridden energy sector.
“The energy sector is plagued by a lethal illness and they are trying to spread the disease to the remaining part of the economy,” he declared, as cited by the Bulgarian National Radio.
He claimed that the main reasons for the predicament were the contracts with the US-owned coal-fired power plants in the Maritsa Basin, the production of renewable energy plants, the expenses on the suspended Belene nuclear power plant and on the Tsankov Kamak Hydroelectric Power Plant, the “deeply unprofessional” management of the energy sector, including of the energy watchdog, the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR).
Danev argued that keeping electricity prices unchanged by end-2015 would provide the authorities to find solutions for the ailing energy sector.
To emphasize the impact of the planned upcoming power price hike, he said that a number of companies included in the BIA had already informed the Employment Agency about staff cuts.
Vasil Velev from the Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association (BICA) announced that over 5000 companies would be endangered by systemic risk, provided that power rates increased as of July 1.
Velev argued that an increase in electricity prices was not necessary at the current stage.
He said that measures that would generate much larger savings had already been proposed.
Velev insisted that the authorities simply had to put an end to energy theft, inefficient energy use, and fraud schemes in the sector.
He pointed out that companies had warned that they would start stopping work for one hour a day, between 11 a.m. and noon, as of June 26, unless the calls of industrial consumers of electricity were heard.
Meanwhile, Energy Minister Temenuhka Petkova explained after a government meeting on Sunday that the authorities had decided that administrative expenses of state-owned energy companies would drop by 10% over the next 3 years.
Petkova, as cited by the Bulgarian Telegraph Agency, also informed that the report of the energy watchdog on power rates as of July 1 would be discussed in Parliament.
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