The municipal councilors in Stara Zagora insist on immediate action to protect the TPP "Maritsa East" 2

The local government warns of growing social tension in the region

Energy / Bulgaria
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Social tension in the "Maritsa East" complex and the entire Starozagorski region is growing with incredible force, and inaction will lead to mass protests and riots in the near future. The people of the region will be put in a back-to-the-wall fight for survival, and their only useful course of action, due to the systematic ignoring of their problem for years going back in time, will be desperate and completely unpredictable in scale. This is stated in the declaration adopted on February 29 by the municipal councilors of the municipality of Stara Zagora regarding: The critical financial situation of TPP Maritsa East 2 EAD and Mini Maritsa East EAD and the growing social tension in the Stara Zagora region.

The declaration was adopted after a nearly 40-minute debate in the Municipal Council of Stara Zagora with 46 votes "for", one "against" and zero "abstentions", reported BTA.

The municipal councilors remind that they have repeatedly raised the alarm about the problems facing the coal regions, related to the decarbonization policy and the way in which the Bulgarian politicians deal with them.

The indifference of the executive power regarding the fate of the Maritsa East complex and the Bulgarian energy industry in general, and hence the energy independence of the country, is unacceptable for two reasons: firstly, neglecting and handing over our energy independence into foreign hands is in itself a retreat of our national interests, and secondly, non-compliance with decisions of the National Assembly is a violation of the Constitution of the Republic of Bulgaria, the Declaration states.

"The coal-fired power plants from the complex "Maritsa East" and Bobov Dol produce more than 47 percent of the electricity in our country. At a cost of the produced energy of over BGN 300 per MWh (depending on the price of carbon emissions) "Maritsa East 2 TPP" EAD cannot compete on a market basis, which portends a reduction in production and its suspension, leading to a subsequent declaration of bankruptcy. As a result, the production of raw material - lignite coal will be reduced, and as a result, nearly 12 500 people directly employed in the two companies and living mainly in the Starozagorski region.

The social effect will be catastrophic, because the reduction in production from "Mini Maritsa-East" EAD will also reflect complex relationships with a network of counterparties, including suppliers of raw materials and materials, construction and repair companies, suppliers of engineering services, and they will also cease activity. According to social surveys, these are another 37,000 jobs in the Stara Zagora region. In total, for the period from 2023 to 2038, the Stara Zagora region will lose more than 51,000 jobs, which is more than 53 percent of all jobs in the region, and the indirectly affected family members will be more than 146,000 people, which is more than 45 per hundred of the population in the Stara Zagora region," states the declaration submitted by municipal councilors Deyan Dyakov, Nasko Mitev and Borislav Yordanov.

Here is the full text of the declaration:

The municipal councilors recall the decisions of the National Assembly, which oblige the fulfillment of certain obligations by the Council of Ministers.

1. Obliges the Council of Ministers, through the Minister of Energy, by February 29, 2024, to adopt all necessary measures for the normal functioning of TPP Maritsa East 2 - EAD, including by increasing the capital of the company by "Bulgarian Energy Holding" - EAD, in order to guarantee the country's energy security as an element of national security, regardless of the opinion of the European Commission on this matter.

2. Obliges the Council of Ministers to take all necessary measures to prevent long-term termination of operation and/or limitation of the production capacity of coal-fired thermal power plants from the group of "Bulgarian Energy Holding" - EAD.

3. Assigns the Council of Ministers to take actions for accession of the Republic of Bulgaria to the "Coal Regions in Transition" platform without undertaking commitments to close coal plants.

With the closure of the "Maritsa East" complex, the main engine of economic and social life in the municipality of Stara Zagora will be shut down. Bulgaria will become extremely dependent on external suppliers of fuel and electricity in the presence of its own suppliers for another 50 years.

The "Maritsa East" energy complex is the main guarantor of the security of the electricity system due to the presence of four thermal power plants operating with a local energy source - coal. Maritsa East 2 TPP EAD is the only plant in our country that is connected to the three voltage levels of the EEC of the Republic of Bulgaria - 110, 220 and 400 kV, which makes it a major factor for sustainable operation of the EEC, to limit the spread of severe accidents and support the rapid recovery of the system.

As we have already mentioned, with the decisions of the National Assembly dated 31.01.2020 (SG No. 11 of 2020) and 12.01.2023 (SG No. 6 of 2023) a firm commitment was made to not admit in the long term and termination of operation and limitation of the production capacity of coal plants from the BEH group.

The municipal councilors express an expectation that the executive power will take immediate measures to ensure the operation of the TPP "Maritsa East 2" and "Mini Maritsa-East" until 2050 according to the European Green Deal, and until 2038 measures will be taken for the gradual modernization of electricity production. In this regard, six main requests to the executive power are listed.

We, the municipal councilors from the city of Stara Zagora, IMMEDIATELY INSIST the executive power to:

1. Fulfill item 1 of the protestors' agreement with the government dated 03.10.2023 (which on 04.10 also became an official decision of the National Assembly) by concluding a contract between TPP Maritsa East 2 EAD and ESO for payment of the service that TPP-2 maintains the necessary composition of synchronously operating and reserve generating sources, directly connected to the power transmission network (without power electronics), to guarantee the operation of modern dispatchable power generation capacities. The deadline for the implementation of this decision of the National Assembly was 31.12.2023 and we demand that it become a fact immediately!

2. The state should step into its role and ensure a smooth transition and reclamation in "Mini Maritsa-East" EAD by fully financing the activities related to this and assigning their implementation to the state enterprise itself, which still has a commitment for this activity at the moment.

3. The transition to decarbonization should be carried out really smoothly, with the opening of new jobs and the prevention of unemployment in the region and employees from the Maritsa East complex being out of work.

4. Immediate actions to introduce a capacity mechanism in the form of a strategic reserve in order to fulfill the wartime task of TPP 2 to protect Bulgaria's national security in crisis moments and situations that no one can foresee far into the future.

5. To be assigned by the Ministry of Energy a pre-project study on the possibilities of CO2 reduction, with included technical and economic justifications, satisfying the commitments made under the green deal, with the ultimate goal being the preservation of the Maritsa-East Mining and Energy Complex.

To build a pilot plant in TPP "Maritsa East 2", after the best option of the pre-project study is accepted, in order to prove the technical and economic efficiency of the method.

6. We insist that within the month of March 2024, the mayor of Stara Zagora and/or representatives authorized by the Municipal Council, be heard in the Energy Commission and the National Assembly.

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