SOFIA Feb 26 Bulgaria's parliament scrapped
preferential prices for new renewable energy installations on
Thursday as the country is struggling to cut deficits in the
energy sector and keep a lid on consumers' utility bills.
Wind power farms and photovoltaic parks mushroomed in 2011,
after Bulgaria introduced generous subsidies for renewable
energy, guaranteed for 20 years and committed to buy all the
energy produced by them.
But the incentives have weighed on the power costs in the
European Union's poorest country, which has met its 2020 target
for a 16 percent share of renewable energy at the end of 2013.
The granted incentives will still be valid for already
operational wind and solar energy plants.
The amendments of the energy law, approved by the
parliament, also envisioned that the public power provider NEK
will not be obliged to buy power at preferential prices from
heating power plants that cannot prove energy efficiency.
The renewable energy boom, incentives for co-generating
power plants and high costs under long-term power purchase
agreements have soared NEK's deficit to 3.3 billion levs ($1.89
billion), the energy ministry has said.
Last week, U.S. power companies AES and
ContourGlobal agreed to negotiate lower prices for the
electricity they produce in Bulgaria.
The parliament also approved changes to boost the
independence of the energy regulator, and its members will be
appointed by parliament, and not by the government, as at
High utility bills had sparked protests which toppled the
government of Prime Minister Boiko Borisov in February 2013.
($1 = 1.7460 leva)
(Reporting by Angel Krasimirov and Tsvetelia Tsolova)