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Bulgaria raises home power, gas prices from July 1

Bulgaria will raise electricity prices for households by an average 14% and wholesale gas prices by 5.15% from July 1 due to high global energy costs, the state energy regulator said on Thursday.

The regulator announced lower hikes than initially planned after the government urged it to take into account the impact on the already double-digit inflation in the poorest European Union country. Consumer prices hit 15% year-on-year in May.

Balkan neighbor Romania also announced on Thursday it will raise domestic gas prices by 12.5% and electricity prices by 5.3% on average from July 1, putting pressure on inflation. Higher energy costs have caused rises in power bills in many European countries.

Power prices are a politically sensitive issue in most central and east European countries, which have not yet abandoned a communist legacy of state control over households power and gas prices. Prices in the region are lower than in the western nations of the EU.

Some utilities warn that security of supply is threatened unless price rises do not take into account investment needed to upgrade grids and build new plants. Bulgaria’s gas monopoly Bulgargaz, which buys most of its gas from Russia, has said it will run losses in the Q3 of the year and supplies may suffer if the regulator rejected its demand for a 19.5% hike in prices. Czech CEZ and Austria’s EVN, leading suppliers of electricity to Bulgarian households, also say the increases are too low. (Reuters)