The Ombudsman Diana Kovacheva referred to the Minister of Energy Rumen Radev because of the many complaints and signals to the institution from citizens – household customers of the heating companies, who are required by European and Bulgarian legislation to allocate a large financial resource to buy water meters and heat meters with remote reading.
“The costs of replacing the heat distributor of only one radiator with a new device with remote reading are over BGN 50 (including: cost of the device, delivery, installation, recording, programming, radio function activation, sealing), and for a hot water meter with remote reading, they most often exceed BGN 100. Thus, for the conversion of a small dwelling with two heating units, the amount exceeds BGN 200. Diana Kovacheva.
The ombudsman asked for more money for disabled children
Therefore, she insists that the state urgently prepare a financial instrument for fair support of more than 570 households on central heat supply, because by January 1, 2027 at the latest, they must install the more expensive devices for remote heat energy reading. This is expected to become most mainstream in 2024 when it expires the second 10-year warranty period of the appliances after the introduction of the system for partial distribution of thermal energy.
“Due to the gradual expiration of the warranty periods of the radiator distributors, as well as the validity of the certificates of metrological suitability of the individual hot water meters, thousands of households have already received mandatory instructions from their heat accountants within 1 month to replace the old means of partial distribution with new devices with remote reading. According to the current regulations, failure to comply with these instructions leads to the accrual of officially increased consumption of heat energy “on the basis” of the client’s lot and to the formation of artificially inflated accounts worth tens and even hundreds of BGN,” the ombudsman emphasizes.
Prof. Kovacheva adds that these additional costs for households arise against the background of the record high regulated prices of heat energy that residential customers of heating systems pay during the current price period.
“I note that the obligation to placement of share allocation funds with remote reporting derives from Directive (EU) 2018/844 of the European Parliament and of the Council of May 30, 2018, which has been transposed into Bulgarian legislation. Pursuant to § 75 of the Transitional and Final Provisions to the Law on Amendments and Supplements to the Law on Energy Efficiency (in force from 12.03.2021) within the period until 01.01.2027, the installed means for share distribution of thermal energy, which are not with possibility of remote reporting should be rebuilt so that provide the possibility of remote reporting, or be replaced by means with remote reading. In addition, Art. 140, para. 7 of the Energy Act requires that when installing new means of share distribution, they must be with remote reporting,” it also says Diana Kovacheva.
She recalls that she already referred the importance of this public problem to the Ministry of Energy during the caretaker government and warned that, according to some estimates, the transition from devices with visual reading to devices with remote reading will cost household customers more than BGN 100 million. for the period 2021-2026, because a total of approx 1.276 million radiata. It indicates that even then it proposed to the Ministry of Energy, through funds from European funds managed by it, to financially support the biter distributor and about 660,000 individual hot water meters for the customers of the heating companies, but unfortunately there is still no response or opinion on the problem posed.
Prof. Kovacheva recalls another fact – she proposed different options for fair support, for example – that the financial compensation should be in the amount of a certain part – a percentage of the total cost that each residential customer of a heat transfer company makes for the re-equipment of his property with funds for share distribution of the heat energy with remote sensing. And in the event of a strong limitation of the support resource – she also indicated as possible the approach in which the state compensates in full only the costs of the re-equipment with remote devices made by citizens who are entitled to social assistance under Art. 2, para. 3 of the Law on Social Assistance.