After an almost eight-hour discussion, the rulers and some of the protesting energy workers and miners agreed on the territorial plans for a fair transition of the Stara Zagora, Pernik and Kyustendil coal regions. It was decided that the coal plants would not close, and the market would determine how long they would operate.
In a meeting closed to the media, trade unionists and the government worked out a general agreement on the territorial plans. The industry is demanding that they be changed because they fear job losses and the collapse of the energy sector due to a lack of alternative capacities.
The main trade union organizations signed the agreement, but individual representatives of the mining unions did not. Therefore, it is not clear whether the blockades in all places in the country will fall, the Prime Minister specified.
The agreement was not signed by the representatives of the miners, announced the president of the “Podkrepa” Confederation of Labor Dimitar Manolov. The trade unionists from the mines, members of “Podkrepa” and some from the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria have not signed.
The blockade of the Trakia highway near Stara Zagora continues for now.
After the meeting, Prime Minister Nikolai Denkov announced that an agreement had been reached that the coal plants would not close, and the market would determine how long they would operate. He said the negotiation process with the energy companies, which broke off on September 30, was resumed today.
All the demands of the energy workers have been discussed and now there is a final agreement signed by the main participants in the negotiations.
According to Denkov, the first two points mean that the state will not administratively close any coal-fired plants. According to the prime minister, there is a need for base capacities so that the energy system is stable and there are no problems with electricity in Bulgaria.
He explained that the talks were long, because people need to understand, on the one hand, that care exists, and on the other hand, the requirements of the EC. “It can’t be done exactly their way, but it can be done in a different way,” commented Denkov.
According to him, the goal is one – for the thermal power plants to work as long as the market allows them. He explained that only one of the unions did not approve and would take it to the protesters for discussion, but did not specify which.
Denkov is of the opinion that there is a disagreement between the various participants in the energy workers’ protest. Some of the organizations have said that they are stopping the protests, others – that they will stop when the agreement is voted on.
Today the energy committee will discuss the agreement, and then there will possibly be an extraordinary meeting of the National Assembly
The Prime Minister praised GERB, who were “very constructive” during the discussion.
According to Desislava Atanasova (GERB), the most important thing is that a solution was found. She explained that there could be an extraordinary meeting today to vote on the agreement. If the Speaker of the National Assembly, Rosen Zhelyazkov, does not call it, the item will enter the agenda on Thursday.
Temenuzka Petkova from GERB pointed out that they have always defended the position that coal plants are a “pillar of energy security” in the country and that the transition should be smooth.
While the meeting was going on, the draft of the agreement, which contains the following seven points, leaked on social networks:
- Continuation of the procedure for introducing a capacity mechanism and starting a procedure for maintaining the necessary composition of synchronously operating and reserve generating sources, directly connected to the power transmission network (without power electronics), through legal solutions to guarantee the operation of modern power generation capacities as a main element of the critical energy infrastructure and national energy security to achieve a smooth energy transition (deadline until 31.12.2023);
- The Council of Ministers implements the decisions of the National Assembly on the operation of TPP “Maritsa Iztok” 2 through negotiations with representatives of the European Commission regarding the long-term prevention of the termination or limitation of the production capacity of coal-fired power plants from the BEH group. The Council of Ministers undertakes not to limit the activity and base capacities of the other operators of combustion installations, if they work in accordance with European and national legislation (deadline until 31.10.2023);
- Development of a project of Bulgaria’s energy system until 2030 with a horizon until 2050 with the participation of social partners, in parallel with the process of updating the Integrated Energy and Climate Plan. The expected available maneuvering and base capacities of coal – not less than 1000 MW by the end of 2035 (deadline until 30.11.2023);
- Transparency of the procedures for investment intentions and inclusion in them of the power plants, mines and affected municipalities in the respective regions with their projects. Creation of a monitoring committee with the participation of representatives of the social partners, including the regional structures from the headquarters, mines and affected municipalities in the respective regions (deadline until 31.12.2023);
- Categorical withdrawal from the territorial plans of an enterprise for the conversion of coal regions (deadline until 31.10.2023);
- Study of the possibility of capturing, processing or storing carbon emissions for TPP “Maritsa Iztok” 2 (deadline until 31.03.2024);
- Taking the necessary actions to prepare a draft law on the energy transition (deadline until 31.12.2023).
Today, at a meeting of the energy committee in the parliament, the text of the agreement will be refined. It is not clear whether they were all approved, Nikolai Denkov did not specify what exactly was written in the agreement, except that the coal plants will not be closed administratively.