Socialist MP Yavor Kuyumdzhiev has assured that electricity prices in Bulgaria will not increase for years.
“Anybody may request an increase in power rates but what matters is what the State Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (DKEVR) permits, and the demands of power distributors are unrealistic,” Kuyumdzhiev said Thursday in an interview for Nova TV.
He said that there was no reason for electricity prices to increase at the current stage, adding that it could happen in years, due to a growth in the inflation rate or the cost of raw materials.
The three power distributors operating in Bulgaria demanded an increase in electricity prices by around 9% as of July 1, investor.bg reminds.
Power distributors explained their demand with the fact that their night-time electricity tariff was below the price at which they purchased electricity from the National Electric Company (NEK) and that their investment costs were not recognized.
Ivan Genov, Executive Director of the Kozloduy Nuclear Power Plant (NPP), explained that the N-plant was accumulating losses through sales on the regulated marked and demanded that a bigger share of the output be sold on the free market.
Kuyumdzhiev, however, suggested that such demands were unrealistic, adding that there were opportunities for a further decrease in power tariffs, for instance by reducing the costs of power distributors.
He rejected accusations that the costs of power distributors were not recognized as investments.
Valentin Nikolov, former CEO of the Kozloduy NPP and member of center-right party GERB (Citizens for European Development of Bulgaria), who also took part in Thursday’s discussion, pointed out that World Bank statistics indicated that the debts in Bulgaria’s energy sector kept increasing and were expected to reach BGN 20 B by 2030, unless reforms were conducted.
“If it depends on experts, electricity prices will increase, if it depends on politicians, they will decrease,” Nikolov declared.
Kuyumdzhiev went on to assure that Bulgaria had enough sufficient reserves of natural gas in the Chiren underground gas storage to guarantee consumption for 30 days.
The socialist MP informed that the Chiren UGS contained 220 million cubic meters of natural gas.
Nikolov reminded, however, that no more than 3 million of cubic meters of gas could be taken out of the depot on a daily basis because the pressure would otherwise drop. He added that Bulgaria’s daily consumption amounted to 8-10 million cubic meters of gas.
Kyuymdzhiev boasted that the socialist-led coalition government had injected around 390 million cubic meters of gas in the Chiren UGS in autumn, stressing that only 60 million cubic meters of gas had been available at the depot in May 2013.
Nikolov noted that it was common practice to fill the gas depot in the autumn months in order to guarantee consumption in winter.
Kyuymdzhiev also boasted about the Bulgaria-Greece gas grid interconnection which had been built during the term in office of the three-way coalition government, accusing the GERB government of failing to build other gas links during its 4-year term in office.
The socialist MP claimed that the Bulgaria-Romania gas grid interconnection, which had reached the most advanced stage of implementation, was not functioning due to a flawed tender organized by the GERB government.
Kuyumdzhiev failed to specify, however, that one of the reasons for the non-functioning Bulgaria-Romania gas grid interconnection was the fact that Romania had not built a compressor station, thereby not allowing the reverse flow of gas.