What would make a woman travel over 4000 km, travelling over 30 times in the same direction in the space of about a year? A passion for travel? Love? A dream?
The short answer is Bulgarian bureaucracy. It, of course, has many names. In this case it is called “Energo-Pro”, the Ministry of Energy, the Energy Committee of the National Assembly.
Anelia Rousseva is a teacher in the village of Sadina in the town of Tervishta. 9 years ago, together with her husband, they decided to install photovoltaics on the roof of their family house. The decision was not made in one day. Moreover, such facilities were rare at that time. They started to study the procedures, the problems, the difficulties. The successful example of a small household generating green energy from the sun in the neighbouring village of Pomorstica gives them hope that they will succeed too.
The procedure is long and cumbersome, Anelia recalls. It took her a year and a half to prepare all the necessary opinions and permits. But… in the end it was worth the effort, the woman is pleased today.
In June 2016, Anelia signed a contract with Energo Pro Varna to produce green energy with an installed capacity of 3.76 kilowatts. This cost her more than 30 visits to Energo Pro’s customer service centre in Targovishte, which is 60 km away from Sadina, and about 10 trips to Popovo Municipality – 20 km away. All this to get to signing a 20-year contract with Energo-Pro Varna, with a surplus energy purchase price of 22.8 st/kWh.
The solar panels on Anelia Rousseva’s roof became a real attraction 7 years ago for the people of Sadina. “They came to see them, they were interested in the procedure, but when they realized how difficult the process was, they gave up,” the woman shakes her head.
The joy of achievement is also short-lived for the Rusevi family. After only two and a half years, it turns out that the purchase price for the electricity they had signed the 20-year contract at is invalid. The reason – a change in regulations and the imposition of a new pricing policy by the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission. In just one day, retroactively, the purchase price became three times lower. It turned out that Anelia and her family had to return money to Energo-Pro or not be paid for the electricity produced and returned to the grid for a future period of time. They accepted the second option. So for a year and a half they produce green energy which they give to Energo-Pro.
Adversity teaches. Anelia finds a way to deal with some of the bureaucratic problems of operating her PV system. Thanks to her e-signature, she saves the time and expense of travelling 120 km each way to the Energo Pro Customer Service Centre in Targovishte every month. There, he has to submit a report of the energy produced back to the grid, which he receives by e-mail, signs with an electronic signature and sends back.
It also opens a loophole to save the monthly bank fees for transferring to Energo Pro the two fees – “Producer Access” and “Network Services”. Although the amounts are small – from one to two leva, they must be transferred every month on a certain date to the account or cashier of the Customer Service Centre of the energy company. For convenience, Anelia transfers a larger amount to Energo-Pro in one lump sum and the company deducts the necessary fees from it each month.
Despite the difficulties and bureaucracy she had to overcome, Anelia is happy with her choice and investment. Currently the price at which the surplus energy is bought is 39 st. per kilowatt.
At no time have I regretted it, Anelia says today. However, she is adamant that the road travelled can be shortened. At least by shortening the period for issuing all necessary permits and opinions. Only clear and concise procedures, she believes, can motivate more households to become energy-independent green energy producers.
We leave Sadina with optimism. If this fragile woman was able to achieve her small energy freedom just because she was energy active and did not give up, then anyone could do it. And whether we shorten our path to energy independence and clear it of bureaucracy, we believe, is up to each of us.