Energy Watchdog Head Refuses to Resign Despite Pressure from Businesses

Energy | August 3, 2015, Monday // 10:09|  views

Ivan Ivanov, who heads the energy watchdog of Bulgaria, has said his agency acted in compliance with the law when it increased power prices for industrial consumers. Photo by BGNES

Bulgarian energy watchdog head has said he won't step down amid calls from employers' unions which have demanded his resignation over a hike in power prices for industrial consumers.

Ivanov has insisted in an interview with private national NOVA TV channel that his agency, the Commission for Energy and Water Regulation (KEVR), abode by the law by adopting last week a "transparent, fair and public" decision" on power rates.

KEVR moved last week to cut power prices for households (except for customers of one of the electricity distributors) and to increase those for industrial consumers.

The hike for businesses has been fueling the anger of employers for months, and trade unions have also jointed recent protests of employers warning that the hike will result in thousands of jobs being cut and tremendous losses for industries.

But Ivanov is adamant he will not backtrack: "Because all the time I am led by the clear thought that I hold this office to defend the interest of society. I am here neither to make a career nor to be liked by anybody."

In his words, KEVR will not defend "corporate interests" voiced by "a certain part of consumers".

Despite admitting the new surcharge for businesses is high, he has insisted there is no other option to tackle financial imbalances generated by the state-owned National Electricity Company (NEK) due to a series of governance mistakes made over the last ten years.

"Businesses, where they are upright, are not to blame, but I am now posing the other question: how can citizens be to blame for the huge deficit?," he has asked.

The hike was largely caused by an increase in the so-called "obligation to society" fee which is now BGN 38/MWh, up from BGN 19.93/MHw, for most consumers.

At a Sunday meeting employers' associations demanded the resignation of Ivanov. They added they would go on with their protest over the increased prices and will take to the streets again in September if the measure is not reversed. Earlier last week they held a nationwide demonstration to vent their anger at the hike.

Also on Sunday, PM Boyko Borisov said Bulgaria would set up a new special unit to oversee the energy sector that would bring together prosecutors and counter-intelligence and security officials from the State Agency for National Security (DANS).

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Tags: Ivan Ivanov, Commission for Energy and Water Regulation, KEVR, protests, power prices, electricity, National Electricity Company, NEK, Ivanov, employers' associations, Boyko Borisov


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