Bulgaria’s Commission for Protection of Competition (CPC) said on May 13 that it has charged state-owned electric utility NEK with abusing its dominant position on the electricity production and wholesale markets.
The charge was the result of an investigation launched by the regulator following a complaint lodged by EVN Trading South East Europe, a Bulgarian electricity-trading subsidiary of Austria’s EVN, which owns the power distribution company servicing southern and south-eastern Bulgaria, an area that includes the country’s second-largest city of Plovdiv and the Black Sea port of Bourgas.
In its investigation, CPC found that during two monthly tenders in October and December 2014, NEK sold out its entire allocation for peak-hour electricity in 2015 to trading companies, using “unclear criteria that were not made public”.
When EVN’s subsidiary inquired, as part of those two tender procedures, about purchasing peak-hour electricity from NEK, its inquiries went unanswered; it was not until January 2015 that NEK notified EVN that it had no spare capacity to sell electricity during the peak-hour period.
By selling all its peak-hour electricity using unclear criteria and non-transparent proceedings, as well as preventing EVN from participating in the electricity sale tenders, the utility put EVN in a disadvantaged position compared to its competitors, the regulator ruled.
All companies involved in the regulatory process will be given access to CPC’s documentation and will have 30 days to submit any objections to the ruling and they can also request a public hearing at the CPC, the regulator said. After that, if the regulator upholds its ruling that NEK abused its dominant market position, it could fine the utility for up to 10 per cent of its turnover for the previous year.