Bulgarian parliament bans rise in energy prices for households

Electricity and gas prices have rocketed 94% and 131% in the first quarter of 2022, compared to the same quarter last year. [Shutterstock / Sashkin]

Bulgaria’s Parliament imposed a moratorium on rising electricity prices for households, central heating, and water supply until the end of March 2022. The decision was backed by the newly formed ruling coalition but was proposed by former Prime Minister Boyko Borissov’s GERB opposition party.

The Bulgarian energy market is semi-regulated. All companies buy electricity from the energy exchange, but prices for households are regulated administratively and will be liberalised in 2025. The Bulgarian energy regulator recently approved an increase in electricity prices for household consumers by 11.5% and central heating by 12.8%.

The decision was voted on swiftly by the Bulgarian parliament without debate on the issue. This led to legal chaos, and the moratorium was initially passed without a deadline. Lawmakers then reverted to the old energy prices, which is illegal.

“It turned out that we made a mistake,” Dragomir Stoynev of the Bulgarian Socialist Party said during a panel discussion. Later, MPs adopted a deadline for the moratorium on price increases from 16 December to 31 March, 2022.

The Bulgarian parliament will have to correct other mistakes in its first decision with a new vote on energy prices.

Deputies must also decide how to compensate the electricity distribution companies and the companies that provide the central heat supply. Government spokeswoman Lena Borislavova acknowledged that the decision to freeze prices had not been properly approved and that mistakes needed to be corrected.

The parliament’s decision led to an unprecedented common position of the country’s three private electricity distribution companies and the state-owned Energy System Operator.

“The support of households and vulnerable social groups in society, which are affected by the price levels of energy services, should be implemented with the means and instruments of legislation governing the work of the labour and social policy ministry,” the position said.

(Krassen Nikolov | EURACTIV.bg)

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