Bulgarian regulator ends licence revocation proceedings against CEZ

Written by on November 14, 2013 in Business - No comments

Bulgaria’s State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) has ended the proceedings to revoke the electricity distribution licence held by Czech firm CEZ, a document published on the regulator’s website on November 14 showed.

According to the document, SEWRC met on November 13 to discuss the issue and ruled that the violations of the Energy Act that prompted the licence revocation procedures “have no impact on the uninterrupted and secure service to customers” and were not sufficient grounds to revoke the licence.

The regulator started the process after a late-night meeting on February 19. Earlier that day, then-prime minister Boiko Borissov said that the regulator would revoke the licence by the end of the day – even though, by law, SEWRC is the only body that decide whether to do so or not.

Borissov’s announcement came only an hour after the Supreme Administrative Prosecution asked SEWRC to revoke CEZ’s licence. The reason for the revocation is that CEZ failed to implement monthly electricity meter measurements – in October 2008, the regulator abolished quarterly measurements, which CEZ had lobbied for.

Two days later, Borissov resigned and had his resignation accepted by Parliament, after nationwide protests sparked by high electricity bills in January had briefly turned violent in Sofia. The same protests spurred a number of regulatory checks at Bulgaria’s three private electricity distribution companies, resulting in a number of fines against the companies.

Austria’s EVN and Czech Energo-Pro had been fined for violations, but it was CEZ that bore the brunt of SEWRC’s sanctions, with 21 fines issued against its subsidiaries.

The worst violations had to do with CEZ not calling public tenders (instead awarding contracts to its own subsidiaries), failure to turn in important paperwork related to meter replacements, as well as failure to answer regulatory queries on time, the regulator said at the time.

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