Censorship?

Apparently I am being censored now by GramwZielone. Some of my comments are being considered spam.

I think that this is because I am one of the only people in Poland who is accurately describing what is going on and why the RES rules are structured to favor the state-owned utilities.

Many Poles, especially in the environmental movement and in the renewable energy sector, have approached me to thank me for the commentary. They almost always say that they are glad someone is saying this, because they feel that they cannot do so. The legacy of communism or a practical view of freedom of speech in Poland?

I strongly feel that the green energy sector is under an additional measure of self censorship - every trade association in renewable energy includes the big utilities that also have green energy projects. They effectively mute the responses of the sector where the interest of the traditional utilities clashes with the emerging technologies. This is true in Brussels as well as Warsaw. [Evidence of this abounds in the new state aid guidelines for renewable energy, which in places track almost word-for-word a position paper of EuroElectric. See EuroElectric, “Renewable Energy And Security Of Supply: Finding Market Solutions,” October 2014. This parallels EuroElectric’s “European Commission’s Public Consultation on the Renewable Energy Strategy,” February 2012, which has language nearly identical to the April 2014 guidelines in many respects].

Further muting the RES sector politically and legally, the Brussels associations in every sector are federations of national associations (inevitably diluting their message by trying to reaching the lowest common denominator).  

The results are amazing to me. In Brussels, the agency charged with protecting competition has just released rules frustrating competition in RES. Policies of the European Parliament in the environment, energy and waste management are frustrated at the implementation level by a bigger lobby that is unified and not apologetic or shy about using its influence.  In Warsaw, the government that complains about the cost of RES to end-users blocks legislation and rules to allow lower prices to consumers (direct sales to energy-users with lower transmission costs).  PiS complains about company lobbyists[1] while PO directly uses the mechanism of government to rig the deal for state-owned utilities,[2] raising the cost to the public.

One of my dreams is an aggressive trade association with European scope that is composed of entirely companies in the green energy sector with no ownership or commercial involvement in coal, natural gas or nuclear plants. Until that happens, the RES sector will continue to endure regulatory and legal hurdles, despite its broad-based support at the political level. 

Anyone interested in a more effective and less diluted RES industry alliance consisting of only green energy companies in Warsaw or Brussels should let me know.  


____________________________________  

[1]  How members of PiS and other parties will learn about the RES sector without talking to the RES sector remains one of the mysteries of modern Poland.

[2] In March 2013, the news was that the Finance and Treasury Ministries were blocking the further progress of the new law, that eliminated or phase-out incompatible aid to co-firing and old hydro, which mainly supported state-owned companies. The Deputy Prime Minister at the time confirmed that the Treasury Minister had blocked the bill from proceeding in 2013.  The pressure [on state-owned companies from the proposed new RES act] had become so strong that, in April 2013. Tusk decided to discard the draft law on renewable energy, which had been worked on for three years, to the waste basket and appointed a new team to work on the bill,” Zielonewiadomosci, November 14, 2013. By June 2013, the Minister of Finance and the Prime Minister’s office had taken over the lead on the RES bill and subsequently removed the complete phase out of aid to co-firing plants (mostly state-owned). Gramwzielone, June 12, 2013. Citing various Prime Minister statements, IEO argues that: “Prime Minister also stated that the State as the owner of energy companies (responsible for the development of nuclear energy and resource use coal and shale gas) wants to influence them in such a way that the interests of these companies was in line with the interests of the state. In other words, the Prime Minister announced a deepening of the "unity corporate and political "in power to halt significant changes in the mix and halt modernization of the energy sector.” Delaying changes in the law especially as to old hydro and co-firing was deemed important to the state-owned companies. The case of the old hydro plant in Wloclawek, the state-owned company was in the middle of an IPO when the Prime Minister’s office delayed the old law for two years or more. The Deputy Prime Minister referred to the need to have “positive  feed-back from the stakeholder ministries” including the Treasury and Finance Ministries. This culminated in firing of the long-serving head of the OCCP (UOKiK) in February 2014 just 48 hours after the Polish Government received a state aid complaint from the Commission. Highly regarded for her expertise and fairness, her replacement was the same man (a non-lawyer who majored in English) who had headed the Council of Ministers group that blocked the RES bill from cutting support to co-firing and old hydro.




Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Hitting Reality: Polish Energy Policy Meets the Facts

Pushing Electric Cars Will Do Little to Fight Air Pollution in Poland