site.btaThere Will Be Enough Natural Gas for Sofia's Heating Season, Mayor Fandakova Says
Sofia Mayor Yordanka Fandakova has received assurances from caretaker Energy Minister Rossen Hristov that there will be enough natural gas to keep the city's heating utility going through the heating season. Fandakova told Nova TV on Saturday that the Toplofikatsiya Sofia company provides central heating to one million people and there is no alternative to this kind of service. "Therefore, it is very important to note that the threats we heard from the previous chairperson of the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission , who said that Sofia would be left without natural gas after September 1, are not relevant anymore," she said.
"I heard from the Minister quite reassuring predictions about the availability of quantities of natural gas. The price remains the big challenge, considering that earlier this week it was set at about BGN 300 per MWh. We are all worried, because this is an unbearable price both for households and businesses," the Mayor said.
She explained that Toplofikatsiya Sofia buys natural gas at the standard price, but the gas price factored by the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission into the price of the heating service is BGN 122 per MWh, which is BGN 180 less for every megawatt-hour. "In this way, new debt is generated all the time," Fandakova concluded.
In the month of August alone, Toplofikatsiya Sofia is expected to incur BGN 52 million in new debt to Bulgargaz as a result of price differences. Fandakova called for a comprehensive solution.
The debt which the heating company incurred in the previous heating season due to price differences alone amounted to BGN 330 million, Fandakova said. She quoted experts as saying that a further half a billion leva will be accumulated by the end of the year.
According to the Mayor, the heating utility could work on black oil instead of natural gas, but only as a temporary solution to a highly critical situation. When Russian natural gas supplies to Bulgaria were cut off in 2009, Toplofikatsiya Sofia switched to black oil, but only for a few days, she recalled. The company has black oil on stock, which would be enough for about a week.
Heating subscribers cannot be burdened with a further rise of the price of the service after an increase from July 1, Fandakova argued.
Discussing the planned reduction of energy consumption across Europe, Fandakova said the buildings of Sofia Municipality will certainly reduce the amount of heat they use. The measure will only affect administrative buildings. She hopes that no heat cuts will be necessary in schools, kindergartens and hospitals.
The Mayor also commented on the Continue the Change party's suggestion that GERB party leader Boyko Borissov should resign. Fanakova, herself a high-ranking GERB member, said: "This is ridiculous. The people are tired of listening to empty rhetoric. The people are concerned about how to pay their bills, what is in store for them in the upcoming season, not just the fuel prices. All prices are on the rise, the people are extremely worried. Personally, I think that many people do not pay attention to such things [like the suggestion about Borissov's retirement]. They want responsible behaviour and they want jobs, and we have proven that we deliver."