A month after Bulgaria started its balancing energy market on June 1, renewable energy producers, one of the most concerned participants of this new Bulgarian power market, or rather a balancing mechanism, alarmed that its functioning has been threatened by willing manipulation. The balancing market is part of Bulgaria’s obligations towards the EU for power market liberalisation and is aimed at minimizing the expenses of consumers for electricity deficits or surpluses for both regulated and freely negotiated power purchase deals. Households do not participate on the balancing market.
Electricity consumers and producers are thus obliged to provide day-ahead hourly schedules for their planned consumption with the presumption that surplus or insufficiency will increase their power bill. Balancing energy prices are administratively set by the Electricity System Operator (ESO) at BGN 186,65/MWh (BGN 1= EUR 0,511) for deficiency and BGN 27,89/MWh for excess electricity. Uniting in different types of balancing groups allows electricity producers and/or consumers to minimise their imbalances and their respective expenses for balancing energy. What is more renewable energy producers were to partially take responsibility for the imbalances and ensuing expenses for the energy system and society they create through intermittent power production.
The Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA) however said that this idea has been distorted by manipulation of the day-ahead hourly schedules submitted by renewable energy producers to the coordinators of their balancing groups. BPVA was recently notified by two coordinators – EVN and Energo-Pro, that as of mid-June the schedules they have been submitting to ESO have been tacitly modified downwards by the National Electricity Company (NEC, also frequently abbreviated as NEK) – the incumbent power supplier which thus has been refusing to validate the actual amounts of renewable energy produced.
“If after the final settlement for June NEC transfers further imbalance to balancing group coordinators and market participants exceeding the ones they have already taken accountability for, this would be a signal for us to notify the Competition Protection Commission, as this way NEC will give competitive advantage to certain connected market participants”, BPVA said in a statement published on its website.
NEC is operator of a number of hydro power plants that are considered renewable energy producers but have been regularly exempt from production restrictions and a feed-in tariff cut with between 5 and 28% introduced by the Bulgarian energy watchdog as of July 1.
BPVA said it has notified the regulator about the violation of the power trading rules and is expecting the watchdog’s response.