The United States isn’t the only country hostile toward clean energy. Bulgaria has just distinguished itself as one of the few other countries that make wind and solar power harder, not easier, to bring to the public. With a new fee threatening to push their businesses into bankruptcy, Bulgarian wind and solar energy developers said they will take their dispute with the Bulgarian energy regulator to court.

According to Recharge News, the new fee “plunged a knife into the heart of its renewables sector, leaving development dead in the water for the next few years.” The true impact has yet to be seen, but the new grid-access charge could amount to a 39 perent retroactive grid tax for PV operators.

The reason behind the price hike is surprising. Using a basic feed-in tariff that pays renewables high prices for their electricity over long-term contracts, solar and wind did very well in Bulgaria. Better, in fact, than anyone expected or projected.  Bulgaria’s aging power grid will soon be unable to handle it. The government needed to tamp down the industry’s success, so decided it would add require payment of a retroactive tax to access the energy grid.

Even though the renewables industry was doing well, the unexpected fee has left companies scrambling.

Investors said they would sue, and have looked into several possible bases. The regulator’s failure to hold a public discussion or inform the investors about the new fees constitutes a breach of contract, they say. On top of that, they also complained that the regulator breached competition rules, thereby abusing its position. Undeniably, they are looking at the money they owe to the banks – said to be in the hundreds of millions of dollars range – and worrying how they will ever pay them back. Even if the renewable energy companies win in court, industry insiders say many developers will not be able to meet the terms of their loans and will go bankrupt.

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