Bulgarian regulator proposes grid access fee for renewable electricity producers

07 February 2014 16:30 Source:ICIS

Bulgarian energy watchdog DKER is planning to impose a Bulgarian Lev (Lv) 2.45/MWh (€1.25/MWh) fee for access to the electricity transmission system for producers of solar and wind electricity who enjoy preferential feed-in tariffs, according to an official proposal published on DKER’s website.

If approved, the fee will be imposed retroactively from 18 September 2012 onwards, the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) said in a statement on Thursday afternoon, citing public discussions of the proposal earlier that day.

In September 2012 DKER adopted retroactive fees for renewable electricity installations for their access to the transmission and distribution grids.

The fees were supposed to cover the rising dispatching expenses that renewable producers were creating for the transmission system operator ESO and the three distributors EVN Bulgaria Distribution, CEZ Distribution and ENERGO-PRO Networks.

The fees varied and were calculated based on a share of the producer’s preferential purchase tariff ( see 18 September 2012 ).

In March 2013 Bulgaria’s supreme administrative court (VAS) revoked the grid access fees ( see EDEM 15 March 2013 ).

However, according to BPVA the renewable producers have not yet received their money back.

New fee

In the proposal for the new fee, DKER outlines the situation with the revocation of the previous grid access fees by the court. The regulator claims that the court’s decision was based on the fact that the fee amount fee was not calculated in a transparent and fair way, but it did not rule out that such fee should not be imposed at all.

The new fee comes after the TSO and the distribution operators once again had asked for compensation for dispatching expenses.

However, DKER considers that only the TSO will receive the income from the fees as their expense claims were justified. The distributors are having their expenses covered by the end-user tariffs and therefore would only collect the fee on behalf of the TSO, the proposal states.

A final decision was not published by DKER at the time of writing. The regulator was also unavailable for additional comment on Friday.

Distributor’s outcry

Some Lv24m worth of operational expenses were excluded from the last end-user tariff calculation, EVN Bulgaria argued in a statement published on Thursday.

In addition, collecting the fee for ESO would put the risk from producers not paying on the back of the distribution companies.

EVN Bulgaria also asked why the fee would only be imposed on wind and solar producers, and not on all producers. “This question is even more important in light of the prevailing public opinion that consumers and producers should pay for the system expenses that they create,” the statement said.

Additional fees

The grid access fee would be a second big hit for Bulgaria’s renewable sector after the Bulgarian government introduced a 20% fee on the revenues of solar and wind electricity producers in December ( see EDEM 5 December 2013 ).

“The new [grid access fee] together with the already voted 20% [revenue] fee and the [annual] production limits, would mean that 45% of producers’ income will be taken away,” BPVA said.

Back in December Bulgarian president Rosen Plevneliev asked the country’s constitutional court to rule on the legality of the introduction of a 20% revenue fee ( see EDEM 13 December 2013 ). A court decision is yet to be revealed. Irina Peltegova

By Irina Peltegova