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Bulgaria plans to help businesses with soaring power costs

SOFIA, Sept 27 (Reuters) – Bulgaria’s interim government is planning up to 650 million levs ($390 million) of financial aid to help businesses cope with soaring electricity prices, interim Prime Minister Stefan Yanev said on Monday.

The government has prepared a six-month scheme to help companies with the high prices, but its implementation will depend on a vote in the new parliament, which will be convened after the Nov. 14 general election.

The relief measures are only focused on business consumers, as electricity prices for households in the European Union’s poorest member state are regulated and will stay unchanged until the end of the year.

“The interim government is working to guarantee access to all consumers to electricity at the best possible price range in the European Union,” Yanev told reporters, noting that prices in the country are among the lowest in the 27-member bloc.

The electricity price for households was set at an average of about 115 levs per megawatt hour (MWh) in July.

The average electricity price on the liberalised market – used by businesses – jumped to 218 levs per MWh in August. On Monday, the average price on the Bulgarian energy bourse’s day-ahead platform was 292 levs per MWh.

The interim government will propose up to 50 levs of aid for every megawatt hour of electricity used by businesses in the first six months of next year as part of the 2022 budget draft it will present to the new parliament.

The support could kick in this year if the new chamber decides to revise the 2021 budget, Yanev told reporters.

The Bulgarian Industrial Capital Association has demanded aid of 70 levs per MWh purchased on the liberalised market from October to March next year to shield the small and open economy from price shocks in the winter.

Yanev said state energy producers would also start to offer three to six months contracts suitable for smaller consumers to ease their access to the energy bourse, among other regulatory steps to make the power market more transparent.

($1 = 1.6685 leva) (Reporting by Tsvetelia Tsolova Editing by Mark Potter)

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