VERBUND Supervisory Board Chairman Martin Ohneberg on the discussion about reactivating coal-fired power generation at the Mellach site.
Vienna (OTS) – Triggered by the current gas crisis in Europe, VERBUND was requested by the federal government in June 2022 to make the use of coal as an alternative to gas at the Mellach district heating power plant possible again in the event of supply bottlenecks or a complete supply failure.
VERBUND has examined and prepared the reactivation of coal-fired power generation at the Mellach site – from conversion and maintenance work to personnel resources and the procurement of the coal required for operation on the world market as well as the transport slots to the site.
“Coal operations at the Mellach district heating power plant were discontinued in March 2020 for operational and ecological reasons. VERBUND’s corporate strategy focuses on the expansion of renewable energies. Reactivating coal operations is not a business or even a strategic decision by VERBUND, but a political and energy-related one. It is a matter of economic responsibility to prepare emergency measures in the event of a gas supply bottleneck or failure in Austria.
VERBUND acknowledges its joint responsibility with regard to the security of electricity supply in Austria. However, this requires a clean legal framework that enables the company to reactivate the Mellach power plant as a stock corporation. VERBUND cannot and must not waive its legally prescribed cost recovery under stock corporation law.
It is the task of politics to provide the company with the appropriate foundations for decisions of such scope that run counter to its strategic orientation but are due to the crisis and serve the common good. In the case of Mellach, this is regulated in Paragraph 6a of the Energy Steering Act: “Compensation in money is to be paid for pecuniary disadvantages incurred as a result of measures taken on the basis of Paragraphs 7(2)(1) and (2), 14(1) and 26(1).”
To all those who now want to delay or prevent a decision, I would like to say: the later this legal basis is given, the later it will also be possible to use the Mellach coal-fired power plant in emergency operation. I expect all parties to take economic responsibility. We all don’t know what the coming months will bring. But one thing is certain, we have to prepare ourselves. If VERBUND can make a contribution to this, this should not be made impossible by populist arguments and party-political wrangling. VERBUND’s goal remains the accelerated expansion of generation from renewable energy sources as well as grids and storage facilities. Ultimately, this is the only way to make Austria less dependent on fossil fuels and to slow down the rate of global warming. For this reason, VERBUND is also investing its profits in the expansion of energy generation from renewable sources and will invest more than three billion euros over the next three years.”
Mag. Ingun Metelko
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