Electricity prices in Bulgaria will increase by 13 per cent, rather than 10 per cent as previously announced, starting July 1, the head of Bulgaria’s utilities regulator Angel Semerdjiev said on June 29.
The decision was taken by the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission late on June 28 and was unanimous, Semerdjiev told Parliament.
The reasons for the higher increase was the need to compensate for the fast growth of the share of renewable energy sources (more expensive than conventional electricity production), the need to encourage electricity and heating co-generation facilities, as well as the higher purchasing prices agreed on long-term contracts for electricity generated at the Maritsa Iztok 1 and Maritza Iztok 3 coal plants.
“Electricity prices in Bulgaria are the lowest in absolute terms in the European Union, but each hike is met with criticism by consumers, which is why we insist on having complete transparency and clear reasons for the price hikes,” Semerdjiev said.
The quick growth of renewable energy – faster than previously expected, helped by the generous feed-in tariff paid by the state – put undue financial strain on state power utility NEK, Semerjiev said. This was the main reason for the additional three percentage points increase in prices, he said.
“It was a difficult decision, but we risked having the national utility fail to cover the expenses I described,” Semerdjiev said. He said that he hoped the new regulatory framework for renewable energy facilities would have the desired effect and slow down the rate of growth of new renewable energy facilities, thus lowering the impact on future electricity price hikes.