Bulgarian budget committee proposes new green energy fee

Reuters

SOFIA (Reuters) - Bulgaria's budget commission has proposed imposing a 20 percent fee on revenue from wind and solar power installations next year to help it finance incentives for the sector while trying to keep electricity costs down.

In a surprise move late on Wednesday, the committee included the proposal from the nationalist Attack party to levy the fee on wind and solar energy producers quarterly as part of the 2014 budget law, which is pending final approval in the chamber.

There was no public debate, and the head of parliament's energy commission from the ruling Socialist party said he would urge his party to vote against it when it reaches parliament.

Renewable energy producers said the move was discriminatory and in breach of Bulgarian and European legislation because it was included at the last minute in a law that was not linked to renewable energy.

"If approved, it will eliminate small business, will put an end to the diversification of energy sources," said Mariana Yaneva, head of the Bulgarian Wind Energy Association.

Wind farms and photovoltaic parks mushroomed in 2011, after the Balkan country offered generous subsidies for renewable energy guaranteed for 20 years.

Protests over high electricity bills - partially due to investment in green energy - toppled the previous centre-right government in February.

Since then, the state energy regulator has cut electricity costs for households two times by a total of 13 percent - a move that has deepened the poor state of power producers and distributors.

The Socialist-led government, facing daily protests over corruption, has pledged to keep power costs low to avoid unrest in the country where power bills take a big chunk of people's monthly income, especially during the winter.

A previous attempt to tame the rising costs for renewable energy by imposing a grid access fee on wind and solar power producers that took between 10 to 40 percent of their income has been overturned by Bulgarian court.

(Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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