Czech firm Energo-Pro, which owns the electricity distribution companies servicing northern and northeastern Bulgaria, has been fined 1.69 million leva for abusing its dominant market position, Bulgaria’s Commission on Protection of Competition (CPC) said.
The fine was imposed because Energo-Pro cut off electricity deliveries to the water and sewerage company in the town of Dobrich. Energo-Pro did so in September 2012 because of the water company’s debts, estimated at more than five million leva.
The regulator said that the debts were not “an objective reason that would justify the behaviour of Energo-Pro” because the water company was making payments under a debt settlement plan and was looking for solutions to the issue.
Being fully aware of the water company’s situation, Energo-Pro should have taken into account the reasons for delayed payment and the water company’s earnest attempts to meet its commitments, CPC said.
“Energy companies are required to carry out their activities in the interest of the society and individual customers. In this dispute, given the high public importance of water services, the dominant company should not have used the extreme measure of suspending electricity deliveries,” the regulator said in a statement.
Energo-Pro said that it would appeal the fine, the highest ever issued by the competition watchdog in the energy sector. The company said, as quoted by news website Mediapool.bg, that the regulator did not take into account all the facts in the case and was imposing a decision that “harmed the business environment in the country, repelling domestic and foreign investors.”