April 13, 2018 / 10:34 AM / 3 months ago

CORRECTED-Bulgarian energy regulator to rule on CEZ's licence in a month

(In first paragraph, corrects to say regulator to rule on electricity sales licence, not the power distribution licence)

SOFIA, April 13 (Reuters) - Bulgaria’s energy regulator will rule whether or not to strip Czech power utility CEZ’s of its electricity sales licence in a month, its chairman said on Friday.

The regulator began checks in 2014 on whether Bulgaria’s three foreign power distributors had breached their licences by withholding funds owed to state power provider NEK because the state company owed them money.

It has since ruled to that Austria’s EVN and the other electricity distributor Czech Energo-Pro will retain their licences.

“In a little more than a month the regulator will rule on the licence of CEZ,” the regulator’s chairman, Ivan Ivanov, told reporters.

Last week Ivanov told a parliamentary commission that the regulator has been conducting annual audits on the three power distributors since 2005 and there have been no indications of any grave violations of their licences.

CEZ’s Bulgarian assets are slated to be sold to Inercom, sparking concerns in the Balkan country over whether the small Bulgarian company would be able to finance and operate assets that provide electricity to three million Bulgarians.

CEZ has also taken Bulgaria to arbitration to seek hundreds of millions of euros for failing to protect its energy investments in the country. (Reporting by Angel KrasimirovWriting by Tsvetelia TsolovaEditing by David Goodman)

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