The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development said it is providing a EUR 5 million loan and technical assistance to the United Bulgarian Bank (UBB) to finance investments that will improve the energy efficiency of residential buildings. The package is part of EBRD’s strategy to help the countries where it invests to address climate change and become less energy intensive.
The loan is being provided under its Residential Energy Efficiency Credit Line (REECL), established in 2005 and extended twice due to strong market demand, according to the statement. The funds will be used from mid-July for on-lending to homeowners, housing associations and privately-owned service providers. Under REECL framework, UBB and end-borrowers will also benefit from technical assistance and grants sponsored by the Kozloduy International Decommissioning Support Fund, EBRD said.
Domestic heating accounts for 70% of Bulgaria’s residential energy consumption
Betsy Nelson, the international financing institution’s vice president and chief risk officer, said UBB has a strong market position, committed team and a country-wide network. Bulgaria is the most energy- and carbon-intensive country in the European Union, EBRD said. “The residential sector accounts for over 20% of the national end-user energy consumption and is the third largest energy consumer after transport and industry. Domestic heating accounts for 70% of Bulgaria’s residential energy consumption. As Bulgaria is aligning its legislation with EU standards, improving energy efficiency in all sectors of the economy is a key element of its energy policy,” the report on its website said.
As a third consecutive joint initiative with the EBRD, via REECL, UBB is providing support to households in efforts to reduce the costs of one of the largest spending items of a family – heating, said Stilian Vatev, the Bulgarian bank’s chief executive. “The new agreement is a natural continuation of the credit line, which has recorded high demand and effective performance. It is our absolute belief that this new initiative will achieve further success in reducing household expenses and improving standards of living for Bulgarian families.”
UBB is part of the financial group of the National Bank of Greece. EBRD was a shareholder in UBB between 1997 and 2004 and remains one of the largest institutional investors in Bulgaria, the press release adds. It has invested over EUR 3.3 billion in more than 220 projects.