Bill for amendment of the Energy Act drafted by the Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism put to public discussions

The Bulgarian Ministry of Economy, Energy and Tourism has drafted a Bill for amendment to the Energy Act and has announced it for public discussions.

The main purpose of the amendments, as promoted by the Ministry, is to improve the independence and the activities of the State Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (SEWRC or Regulator).

One of the major changes proposed with the draft Bill is to divide the Regulator into two specialized Departments – one in charge for the energy sector, and the other – in charge for the water supply sector.

The Ministry suggests that the members of the SEWRC are appointed and dismissed by the Bulgarian Parliament. Currently they are appointed and dismissed by the Council of Ministers. The candidates shall be nominated by the members of Parliament or by the parliamentary political groups. Thus, the draft Bill aims to ensure greater publicity of the process of nomination and election of the members of the Regulator. In order to ensure the independent process of adopting SEWRC resolutions, the draft Bill provides that the Regulator shall not accept any direct instructions from the government or any other public or private entity and that it shall adopt its resolutions independently from any market interests.

Further, aiming at increasing the publicity in the work of the Regulator, the draft Bill limits the cases, when the Regulator shall be entitled to adopt resolutions on closed sessions. The general rule is that the sessions of the Regulator shall be public and open, unless confidential information is reviewed in the session. The bill increases the scope of the information from SEWRC sessions, which will be publicly accessible, including minutes from open sessions and public hearings, as well as the way each of the members of the Regulator has voted.

The draft Bill increases the requirements to the candidates for SEWRC members in terms of their professional experience. It introduces a requirement that all members should have minimum professional experience of 5 or more years in the area of energy or water supply respectively. The draft introduces explicit definitions regarding the professional experience in the area of energy and water supply.

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