Veolia and Suez have merged to become a global leader for ecological services. What is the progress in becoming a global champion of ecological transformation?
This merger in terms of size and scope is a game-changing move for the entire industry. The new group benefits from the support of 220,000 employees and a revenue of 28.5 billion Euros in 2021.
Veolia’s Purpose is to become a Champion of ecological transformation and with the exceptional expertise cumulated in both companies now for more than 170 years we are ready than never before be the leader in the field.
Does it impact your operations in Bulgaria?
Certainly. One direct impact of the merger with Suez for Bulgaria is the access it grants to so much more outstanding new technologies and new development opportunities for our employees, solving challenges of the ecological transformation.
Another aspect of the impact is that Veolia Bulgaria has taken over the former operations of SUEZ’s in Greece where we are a minority shareholder in the Thessaloniki water utility company and have several projects with commercial customers in Athens. This is a fantastic opportunity for us and a proof that Veolia trusts the potential of this region.
What is the strategy of Veolia in Bulgaria?
We started in Bulgaria in 2006, and today we operate in two of the Group main business lines – services in the water and energy segments. Veolia is partnering with municipalities, industries and industrial customers all over the country.
Veolia’s strategy in Bulgaria is to continue to grow our digital services and of course, the performance-based contracts with a guaranteed benefit for our clients.
Do you have a specific interest in decarbonization plans that are serious challenge to governments and industries?
Yes, definitely. Veolia’s expertise in operating Sofia’s waste water treatment plant (WWTP allows us to be a real champion in this field in Bulgaria. The WWTP saves 75 000 t CO2 annually while producing 23 GWt energy from biomethane for the same period. The plant is the second ranked among 2500 similar WWTPs by its energy efficiency in Veolia Group.
Sofia Municipality council had voted the extension of the concession term of Sofiyska Voda by 2034. What are the investments and improvements that you envisage for Sofia residents?
Our main objective remains unchanged – to provide both high quality and standard services to Sofia residents at affordable prices.
Regarding our clients, we plan to continue to improve our services towards them and make their communication with SV easier.
We will continue the digitalization of our activities and services, we will reduce further the water losses using the entire accumulated global know-how and expertise of Veolia for the conservation of this valuable resource regardless of the fact that even at present, Sofiyska Voda has the best indicators in Bulgaria far above the long term target of the regulator. All these efforts contribute to provide safer provision of water to Sofia citizens.
We are determined to achieve 100% energy neutrality before 2025. I am proud that we meet more than 85% of the energy needs of Sofiyska Voda with the green energy produced at Sofia WWTP. We intend to ensure the remaining percentages to the energy independence with the installation of solar capacities on the territory of our treatment facilities. A key parameter will be also the water tariffs we propose for our customers.
In 2022, despite of the difficult economic situation, Sofiyska Voda has not increased the prices of the WSS services thanks to a robust cost and investment management as well as to our energy efficiency. Actually, due to the critical situation, the increase vs 2021 in other Bulgarian cities reached 40% in average for medium and large sized operator.
If we look at the current Business Plan, the prices for the entire period til 2026 were to increase by 11%. For the same group of water operators, the forecasted tariff increase – no inflation incl. – is appr. 70%. This make Sofiyska Voda water tariffs the cheapest until 2026.
We envisage to implement a robust plan in the urban WSS which is expected to exceed 630 million BGN until 2034, out of which 113 MBGN will be dedicated to the sewer extension.