Bulgaria’s president, Rosen Plevneliev, has weighed into a growing row over a proposed 20% levy on solar and wind projects.
Plevneliev has asked Bulgaria’s constitutional court to overturn the charge, which came into force on 1 January this year, on the grounds that it is unconstitutional.
The charge was voted through by Bulgaria’s parliament in December ostensibly to curb energy bill increases, which have been blamed on renewable energy subsidies.
The move drew fierce criticism from renewable energy proponents, who said it would effectively kill off any investment in solar or wind and was unconstitutional. Instead of penalising solar and wind, critics said Bulgaria was in need of wider energy reforms to address apparent structural deficiencies in the country’s energy market.
Following an appeal to Plevneliev by the Bulgarian Photovoltaic Association (BPVA), the president has ordered the constitutional court to examine the case.
“The 20% RE tax introduced on 1 January 2014 contravenes the fundamental constitutional principles of a free enterprise,” Plevneliev's press office said.
The president said the levy would create different legal conditions for solar and wind business as compared to other forms of renewable energy, such as hydro-power or biomass, which are not subject to the levy.
The BPVA said it had garnered the support of European energy commissioner, Günther Oettinger, after raising the matter with his office.
The association said it had also received a letter from the general secretariat of the European Commission acknowledging the issue and offering its support to the BPVA.
The letter said it was important Bulgaria did not undermine investor confidence in renewable by introducing “arbitrary or improvised” measures and said it would raise the matter with Bulgarian authorities
A spokeswoman for the BPVA told PV Tech: “This act of the president and the reassurance by the European Commission that it will raise the issue with the Bulgarian authorities make us hope that the investor interests and rights in the Bulgarian energy sector will be treated non-discriminatorily as well as in accordance with the Bulgarian constitution.”