At the end of last year PGE management admitted that the company wants to get rid of coal assets by the end of 2021. At the same time PGE’s management does not see any obstacles in applying for an extension of the concession for the Turów complex until 2044. It is hardly surprising that local government officials are increasingly concerned about the situation. They fear that the region will be left both without funds for transformation and without a mine. When will PGE’s CEO and the Polish government have the courage to admit that the extension of Turów's operations does not make sense in terms of economics and start focusing on preparing the region for the inevitable transformation?
1. Why is PGE fighting for Turow?
- We want to dig here until the 2044 and we will do everything as the Polish Energy Group to obtain this license for Turów - said Wojciech Dąbrowski, CEO of PGE, in an interview for TV Bogatynia. - We have already submitted an application for a mining license. Obviously, that licensewill require arrangements at the European Commission level, where we will have to fight for it in the EU agencies.
Recall: Turów currently operates under a mining license until 2026. PGE, however, plans to transfer all coal assets to the yet to be created National Energy Security Administration (Polish acronym NABE). PGE itself is to continue owning renewable energy and gas-fired district heating assets.
Therefore, PGE's efforts to obtain a mining license until 2044 for Turów, with which it will soon have nothing to do, seem absurd. Especially since the mine and power plant can operate on the basis of the current concession only for the next 5 years. PGE has become a hostage of the state and the Polish trade unions.
If, as PGE CEO Dąbrowski declares, PGE cares so much about the continued operation of the Turów complex until 2044, it should keep the assets of the complex within the company and carry out the transformation of the Turów region to the end, and not run away from the responsibility for the future fate of the complex and the people employed in it.
Statement by the CEOof PGE:
2. Local government officials distrust PGE
The lack of coherence and uniformity in PGE's policy is also noticed by local government officials, who have less and less faith in the promises of the president and the management board.
- The CEO [of PGE] said earlier that he wants to get rid of the mine and the power plant and separate spin them off with the rest of PGE’s coal assets," the mayor of Zgorzelec Rafał Gronicz told TV Bogatynia. - I don't fully trust the words of the CEO, who says that he will be mining until 44, but wants the coal mines and power plants to be taken away from him. That is why we would like to be prepared, and we would like to have a plan and a strategy which will tell us what will happen in this area until 2044.
"Local government officials are also watching the reports from the European Parliament, and these on electricity produced from coal are clear. New climate targets adopted by the European Union, make it economically pointless to produce electricity from lignite. And that's not all. Business will also force Polish players to move away from coal. The CEOt of PGE himself admitted at the end of last year that it is becoming increasingly difficult to find insurers for coal companies.
- We are very much afraid - especially that there is no strategy of PGE or the government - what will happen with our mine and power plant. We think, all local government officials from Zgorzelec district, that without money for transformation it may be very difficult here - added Gronicz.
The region will not be able to count on support as part of a just transition. Even if PGE really wanted to keep mining in Turów until 2044, it would be a disservice to the region. However, all indications are that the plans are only on paper and in reality, no one on the board is serious about mining for another 23 years.
3. Coal or monuments?
Greenpeace is still active in defending the former Opolno-Zdrój health resort from the Turów open-cast expansion. It would be another beautiful village sacrificed to the mine. Earlier, the opencast consumed Rybarzowice, once one of the most beautiful villages near Bogatynia and Zgorzelec.
"Rybarzowice disappeared from the map in the late 20th century, and the last house was demolished in July 2000," reads the Zgorzelec NaszeMiasto.pl portal. - Today, it is hard to believe that the village with such a rich history and stylish architecture does not exist. The only remnant that has remained is a fountain, which now adorns the entrance to the palace in Wojanów".
It is even harder to believe that a similar fate may befall another beautiful town in the area - Opolno-Zdrój. The former health resort and historic houses may be razed to the ground if plans for the development of the open-pit are carried out.
More and more people join in the defence of the former spa and irreplaceable architectural monuments. The historic guesthouse located in the village is to be entered in the register of protected monuments.
- It is a boarding house from the beginning of the 20th century, an interesting architectural form - said in TVP Wrocław provincial conservator of monuments Barbara Nowak-Obelinda.
TVP Wrocław reports that three half-timbered houses from Opolno are also to be entered in the register of monuments. The provincial conservator said that the chances of entering these monuments into the register are "practically one hundred percent".
A total of 13 buildings are to be included in the provincial register of monuments. This decision may seriously hamper plans to expand the mine.
Photo: Danuta B. / fotopolska.eu