EU notification or not? Political Repercussions Inevitable

The Ministry for Infrastructure is raising issues about the announced intention of the Polish Government not to notify Brussels on the new law. [They never notified on the existing law and are in an enforcement case with the Commission on the subject]. The Ministry's point is not one of mine and may even be a "stalking horse" for the real arguments which are harder to admit (i.e. the auction is not technologically neutral, the procedure is not transparent, Green Certificates are still used without necessary Commission approval, and the whole exemption relied upon is not even finalized yet).

Failure to notify will lead to a Commission complaint and the review will be done by Brussels whether the Polish Government seeks it or not. The ruling coalition seems to be convinced that it is somehow served by delaying the inevitable smack down. My own educated guess is that the smack down will occur in time to be an issue in the elections next year, so their timing is totally counter-productive. The recovery of 70% of all aid to renewable energy in Poland since 2005 is a big enough issue that even the general media will pick up on it. It is more than the total national deficit for example.

In the interim, we face local elections where I have done whatever is possible to raise the issue of the government's policies hurting local government and small communities. Without changes in the draft law as it pertains to biogas, local small town residents will lose most chances for cheaper biogas heating in the local systems, cheaper processing of sewage sludge and household food wastes, and on the flip-side will see more biogas plants without the most environmental and odor control since the government policies make these expensive add-ons quite difficult to fund. We will be expanding on this theme throughout the local elections in Poland.

All of this should be viewed against the political back drop of the coalition misreading public opinion, which favors green energy more than the government's preferred coal and nuclear projects (70%; 24% and 26%). If even a small percent of the electorate make this an issue in their voting, it can be decisive in a close election. I noted in the past that on a levelized cost basis, new coal plants and nuclear plants are more expensive that some renewables right now and that this trend will continue.

One of the great ironies in Poland is that the new anti-communists seem to act like communists more than they will ever admit. Heavy-handed, ham-fisted policies with very little transparency in government or regard for the public's input may as well be coming from the old communist bosses in Moscow.[1]


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[1] Note to the government: having repeated public hearings with the sole function of announcing the decisions already made behind closed doors is not conductive to building democratic institutions in Poland. See my earlier post on the legislative process compared to the United States. There is virtually no effort to receive opinions from stakeholders before decisions are made. This also helps explain the stop-and-go nature of the RES bill, since its various iterations have been put together without much if any consideration of input from the public and the sector. They publish something dumb and then run back behind closed doors to make another decision in the dark.


UPDATE: If you would like a copy of the advantages of biogas plants to local communities, focusing on the Danish model, please download it here (PL) or please contact me (randymott (at) envirosolutions.co.)(EN version). The paper emphasizes the advantages of adopting the PBA amendments. This is the information that is being provided to local government and NGOs relevant to the local elections. It makes no sense to promote farm-based biogas plants in Poland and not to support community-based biogas plants with higher technology and more benefits to the local residents.

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