Bulgarian renewable energy producers demand minister’s firing

Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association, the solar power industry lobby group, asked in an open letter to caretaker Prime Minister Marin Raykov on April 30 to fire caretaker Economy and Energy Minister Assen Vassilev for “discriminatory actions” against renewable energy producers.

The letter comes against a background of power grid operator ESO repeatedly, over the past week, asking electricity distribution companies to limit the production of electricity from renewable energy sources. The latest order was issued for April 30, affecting renewable producers in southern and southeastern Bulgaria.

ESO’s orders, issued on a day-by-day basis, tasked the three distribution companies – owned by Czech CEZ and Energo-Pro, as well as Austria’s EVN – with limiting generation at 40 per cent of capacity. The power grid operator said that its decrees were meant to prevent grid overload at a time when domestic electricity consumption remains low.

The solar power association said that such orders were unjustified, breaching both Bulgarian and EU law, and threatened to put more than 1700 renewable energy producers out of business. Such decisions also benefited conventional power generation facilities and created tension between employees in the renewable energy sector and those employed by conventional electricity producers, the association said.

In addition to Vassilev’s sacking, the association asked Raykov to lift the restrictions on power generation imposed earlier this month and order the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission to remove the access to grid fee imposed on renewable energy producers last year.

On April 4, ESO asked all electricity producers in the country to limit their power generation in order to prevent grid overload. It also asked the electricity distribution companies to disconnect 40 per cent of renewable energy producers from the grid. The only exception was hydro-power plants, which were needed to work at full capacity to prevent dams from overflowing.

“These demands are only meant to end the institutional despotism and observe the law,” the association said.

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(Electricity power-generating windmills at wind farm Kaliakra Bulgaria. Photo: Clive Leviev-Sawyer)



The Sofia Globe staff

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