There are hidden dependencies of various political and economic lobbies on the activities of the EWRC, says Petko Kovatchev from the Green Laws initiative in an interview by Veselina Milanova on BNR’s Horizon programme.
Host: Mr. Kovachev, are we not close to that moment when we will see solar panels on every house and block or is it too early to dream?
П. Kovachev. At the moment, there are all the conditions for the process of designing and installing such installations to intensify, along with some other installations that are not talked about, such as wind technologies for buildings – something very popular in England. At the moment the conditions are such that, with a good policy, with a facilitated legislation, this process could happen at a hard fast pace, if not on every house, at least in a significant proportion of Bulgarian homes.
П. Kovachev. We start from the fact that the legislation does not allow the installation process to be relatively short in terms of bureaucratic requirements in terms of design, land-use planning regimes, etc.
Presenter: Just to open a parenthesis, I remember talking to an industry person who was talking about an investor who wanted to put PV on a roof
a on his business building and the municipality was asking him for permission to issue a building permit and to coordinate the project with the Civil Aviation Authority, given that the PV panel had nothing to do with aviation and did not change the height of the building in any way. I say this as an example of the absurd things the law wants. Right?
П. Kovatchev: Exactly. In that sense, one of the objectives of our project is to catch all possible obstacles and point them out to the legislator. Because what is happening at the moment is piecemeal work. It is evident that some MPs and parliamentary groups are willing to act in this direction. But parliaments do not live long in this country, and the constant pre-election moment makes MPs not think about comprehensive new laws, which are needed. They work piecemeal where they can break through, especially on the Renewable Energy Act and the Energy Act. These are steps forward, but they are woefully inadequate.
Presenter. With this campaign, you will try to make the work of MPs as easy as possible. So that at some point in the future, when there is a more permanent National Assembly, they have a ready base to stand on and make the specific changes.
П. Kovachev. We are also participating in other formats, together with the Public Centre for Environment and Sustainable Development, the Green Laws initiative and colleagues from Greenpeace. The topic is not new. We want to make it more concentrated so that it really has a serious benefit, rather than fighting wars over every small step. I would like to make special mention of our desire to reform the Energy and Water Regulatory Commission (EWRC).
П. Kovachev: Because we believe that there is a need for very serious changes there. To strengthen its control functions, especially over energy trading on the exchange. This is a bit further away from the citizens, but it is very important in terms of electricity prices and also to refine its regulatory functions. We see that the commission is becoming almost a state within the state, and it should be very responsible for what it does. We see hidden dependencies on the part of various political and economic lobbies on the Commission’s activities.
Presenter: Let’s go back to what we started with – the possible production of so-called “domestic energy”. To orient ourselves in the problem, can we make
you a brief comparison between our regime and another country. How long and how much money is needed to achieve a good end result? Why is it possible there and not here?
П. Kovachev. Here the process still takes between a year and two, whereas in Western countries, and now in some Central European countries, we are talking about months. In terms of money, the investment costs are not very different, but there is a difference in the fees for a number of administrative services.
Presenter: So what you are going to be preparing as administrative changes will also affect these unnecessary fees that are currently being paid and are financially burdening people who would like to make such an investment?
П. Exactly. For example, the grid transmission charge, especially if the home energy producers demand control of the grid.
Presenter: I admit to you what you are saying about a network of small producers sounds to me like something from the realm of science fiction, but it might happen sooner. Finally, out of sheer curiosity, let me ask you, what are wind technologies for buildings?