Bulgaria’s energy regulator meeting makes no decision on electricity price increase

Bulgaria’s State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC) said on September 30 2014, after meeting for more than four hours, that it had reached no final decision on electricity prices. This was after expectations the commission would announce an average 10 per cent increase, effective October 1.

As it was, the meeting had been meant to start at 10am but this was postponed until 2pm. Soon before 7pm, the commission said that it would meet again on October 1 and a decision would be announced then.

The announcement was the latest twist in a saga that has seen electricity prices go up and down in the past two years in what is a national political hot-button issue.

With the SEWRC scheduled to make a decision on an electricity price increase just a few days before Bulgaria’s early parliamentary elections on October 5, leftist and populist political parties railed against the proposed increase, some organising public protests.

The proposed price adjustment comes against a background of electricity prices being forced down in line with a promise by the Bulgarian Socialist Party ahead of the May 2013 parliamentary elections.

A decision now on hiking electricity prices would be the second price increase in 2014.

On June 30 2014, SEWRC said that it approved higher prices for end-users starting July 1, despite previously having announced plans for a small price cut.

That was the first price hike ordered by the regulator since the 13 per cent increase approved in June 2012.

In 2013, the regulator cut prices on three occasions, wiping out most of the earlier price increase, but those moves led to state electricity utility NEK amassing large debts that now had to be compensated, the SEWRC head at the time, Boyan Boev, said.

On December 30 2013, SEWRC decided to reduce electricity prices starting January 1 2014
A one per cent reduction was made to household daytime tariffs; while the night-time rate was cut by 10 per cent. Electricity prices for industrial consumers were reduced by 1.5 per cent.

To fund the price cuts, the regulator said at the time that it would reduce the margin of “technological losses” afforded to the three private electricity distribution companies (owned by Czech CEZ and Energo-Pro, as well as Austria’s EVN – all of them having opposed that latest price cut) from 12 per cent to 10 per cent.

On July 30 2013, SEWRC said that it had approved the electricity price cuts as of August 1 2013.

Those price cuts averaged between 4.2 per cent and 4.9 per cent for daytime tariffs, depending on the geographic location of end-customers. Night-time tariffs were cut by between 3.4 per cent and 6.8 per cent.

On March 5 2013, SEWRC said that it approved electricity price cuts that took effect immediately. The price cuts averaged between 6.2 per cent and 7.3 per cent, depending on the geographic location of customers.
The March price cut was preceded by February public protests mobilised around electricity prices and directed against Boiko Borissov’s centre-right GERB government, which stepped down after an incident in violence in Sofia when protesters and police clashed.

In June 2012, electricity prices in Bulgaria were increased by 13 per cent, rather than 10 per cent as had been previously announced, starting July 1 2012, the head of Bulgaria’s utilities regulator at the time, Angel Semerdjiev, said on June 29.

(Photo: John Mason/freeimages.com)



The Sofia Globe staff

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