Dissatisfaction among miners is growing again because of a lack of policy to protect their jobs

Another year the state slept without providing support for the energy poor in our country

Energy / Bulgaria
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Unions are once again closing ranks over the government's green policies. And more precisely, the lack of a vision of exactly how the energy transition will take place in the Stara Zagora region. This became clear from the words of Ognyan Atanasov, vice-president of KNSB, who participated in the forum "The price of the personal transition - green, digital, demographic". The moderator of the panel was Slavcho Neikov, chairman of the Management Board of the Institute for Energy Management.

Atanasov explained that tension is currently arising due to the lack of clarity about the future of the Stara Zagora region and the Maritsa East complex. He still did not use the word "protest", but he made a request that the miners would not stand idly by as the state neglected their future. To date, the cost of personal transit in the mine area is 36 labor wages. This is all the government has promised, explained Atanasov. He added that no retraining programs for miners are currently in operation, and no mine conversion enterprise will be set up. The problem is also compounded by the fact that the blocks of the Contur Global Maritsa East 3 TPP are to be conserved, Atanasov explained to the audience.

He recalled that the unions insist on quality jobs and even a special European directive on the just transition. It should include those social and labor changes that are about to happen in the coal regions. Atanasov asked to have a National Plan for a just transition, which has a horizontal policy and covers sectors such as construction, transport, energy and agriculture. We also want there to be impact assessments at the national level of the projects related to the ‘Fit for 55’ initiative.

The definition of energy poverty has been empty for a year now

One year after our state painstakingly created a definition of energy poverty, it turned out that there is still no administration responsible for the energy poor. This was explained by Dr. Teodora Peneva, chief assistant at the Institute for Economic Research at the BAS.

She was categorical that the expenses of households will be the first to grow due to various requirements of our legislation - the main ones are the liberalization of the market, the payment of harmful emissions in transport and buildings, which will start from 2027. Only these three factors will significantly increase household bills. Specifically, for fuels, due to their introduction into the emissions system, a 10% price increase is expected, explained Peneva. She spoke about the need to think about a definition of "transport poverty". We remind you that a few days ago the chairman of KEVR also talked about introducing the term "water poor" consumers.

There are also problems with the National Decarbonization Fund, which is expected to be established in our country for the second year. It is expected to subsidize households that cannot cover their electricity bills on the free market. Through what mechanism this will happen is not yet clear, and a decision on the matter is expected from the Ministry of Energy.

Dr. Peneva gave as an example the neighboring countries, where there are already separate decarbonization funds, in which there is a separate 100-200 million euro financial resource just to support the energy poor. In our country, it is still not clear when exactly this decarbonization fund will be created.

A partial solution to the problem can come from Ostap Bender's principle: The rescue of the drowning is the work of the drowning themselves!”. It's about creating energy communities. These are groups of households and/or companies that come together and produce the required amount of electricity and heat by themselves. Similar initiatives are already found in Europe, but Bulgaria is the first to create such communities. There are already several pilot projects, but our legislation lags behind in this direction as well. However, not all households will consume the same amount of energy and this may prove to be a problem at some point, it became clear from the words of Dr. Vladimir Zinoviev, director of the Scientific Research Center for Energy Business and Infrastructure of UNWE. "The plus for each of us from creating an energy community is different. But what everyone has in common is that we will pay less for electricity," the expert believes.

Apostol Dyankov from WWF was more categorical and recalled that the world is living in a period of climate crisis. We have already exceeded the threshold of 1.5 degrees Celsius warming of the planet, which was the maximum according to some scientists, if we want to avoid a climate catastrophe in the future. According to Dyankov, future generations will suffer significantly more because of climate change, and people will have to get used to this fact. So far, artificial intelligence has not shown that it can suffer, Dyankov explained.

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