Prague/Sofia - The controls that Bulgaria's energy regulator has started in local divisions of Czech companies CEZ and Energo-Pro and Austrian firm EVN are a standard measure that the regulator announced already in mid-December, CEZ spokeswoman Barbora Pulpanova told CTK.
The regulator announced today that it had started the controls due to a high number of complaints of clients about too high bills for electricity.
Apart from the three electricity distributors, the controls also concern a heating plant in Sofia. They are aimed at finding any discrepancies. The controls will take four months but can be extended depending on the findings.
"CEZ is convinced that it is meeting all its duties. The regulatory office has recently confirmed it when it found no faults that could lead to licence withdrawal," Pulpanova said.
Early last year, Czech firms CEZ and Energo-Pro and Austria's EVN, distributing electricity in Bulgaria, were the target of mass protests of Bulgarians over high electricity bills. The growth was due to a longer billing period, colder winter and ensuing higher consumption.
Bulgarian authorities in February started a process that might have resulted in revoking CEZ's licence. The regulator decided in November that it was halting the proceedings for licence withdrawal from CEZ.
Energo-Pro was fined twice by Bulgarian antimonopoly body for abuse of dominant market position in the course of the year.
Electricity prices in Bulgaria are a politically sensitive topic because costs of electricity supplies there take a large part of monthly incomes of the population in particular in winter.
Since the start of this year, the Bulgarian regulator has cut again electricity prices for households and industrial companies.
CEZ said earlier already it would challenge the decision at court. The regulator cut electricity prices in a similar way twice last year.