On 1 July 2017, the Bulgarian Energy Water Regulatory Commission (the “EWRC”) published its new regulatory decisions for 2017-18, which entered into force immediately and are expected to be valid until 30 June 2018.

One notable decision is Decision C-19/2017 in which the EWRC set the price to access the grid for solar and wind energy producers at BGN 6.68 (ca. EUR 3.42) per MWh, excluding VAT. This fee is collected in favour of the transmission system operator, ESO, indirectly owned by the Bulgarian state.

In imposing this fee, which applies only to certain energy producers, the EWRC continues a trend of illegal actions against renewables that started as early as 2012, when the EWRC first required solar and wind producers to pay to access the grid. The fee is a clear act of discrimination towards these producers, as no other type of energy producers are required to pay such an amount.

The access fee resulted from political pressure against renewables, in particular solar and wind energy producers who financially benefited from the FiT mechanism. As the result of many irregularities and discrepancies with legal requirements, the access fee was finally repealed in court. Following serious support and input from CMS, solar and wind energy producers recouped all amounts paid.

Irrespective of the many court decisions in favour of renewables, the EWRC has continued this discriminatory policy against solar and wind energy producers. However, due to increased pressure on the EWRC as a result of renewable energy producers challenging the fee, each year the price to access the grid is reduced.

Decision C-19/2017 decreases the access price for solar and wind producers by 4.8%. Nevertheless, CMS has identified a major flaw in the calculations of the EWRC leading to the new price. The EWRC intentionally failed to collect all relevant data and through the new access fee, seeks to compensate ESO for BGN 2.7 million (ca. EUR 1.38 million) worth of expenses that were never incurred. If this amount of un-incurred expenses is removed from the calculation, the access price would be at least halved.

The vast majority of renewable producers are currently considering challenging the discriminatory fees imposed under Decision C-19/2017. CMS is closely involved in this matter and will keep you updated on any developments.