The head of Bulgaria’s energy regulator, Ivan Ivanov, has dismissed speculation that the country is at risk of power cuts.
Ivanov’s statements on January 24 came after several weeks of harsh winter weather conditions and claims by the opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party that the country’s energy supply was on the brink of collapse.
Ivanov said that Bulgaria’s current weather conditions were unique over the past 30 years. There was a combination of two factors, the very low temperatures and the fact that they were continuing for a long time.
“We have had such low temperatures in recent decades, but usually within a few days, the cold wave passes,” he said.
“Although the energy system is operating under a lot of pressure, I think that there will be no power cuts,” Ivanov said.
Asked by reporters to comment on the dispute between Boiko Borissov’s governing party GERB and the opposition BSP about the socialist party’s allegations of a nearing power supply collapse, Ivanov noted that the country was entering into election campaigning, and added that the Bulgarian energy sector had moved considerably along.
According to Ivanov, the National Electricity Company had been financially rehabilitated, having had a deficit of 600 million leva (about 306 million euro). In two years, the liberalisation of the energy market had begun and “real gas diversification” had been completed through two interconnectors, with Greece and Romania, he said.
Ivanov said that checks so far of consumers’ electricity bills had shown no irregularities. Checks would continue to ensure that these bills were reasonable, he said.
Electricity bills have been a hot-button issue in Bulgaria’s recent political past. In early 2013, anti-government protests mobilised around high electricity bills and other cost-of-living issues eventually saw an incident of violence in Sofia, leading then-prime minister Boiko Borissov to resign and precipitate early elections that saw a coalition of which the BSP was part come to power.
Borissov’s current government is about to leave office, having resigned in November 2016 because his party lost the presidential elections. Early parliamentary elections are to be decreed by President Roumen Radev within days and expected to be held some time between late March and early April 2017.
(Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)