The Prague Post reports that the largest polluting coal plant in the Czech Republic is expected to be approved for expansion – despite an independent report advising against the move, objections by environmental groups and an apparent conflict of interest on the part of the public official making the decision.
The approval of an imminent Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) report would pave the way for the Prunérov coal-fired power plant – owned and run by energy giant CEZ -to expand and extend its operational life by 25 years. The report is to be released soon, although officials would not give a specific date.
The expansion plan was opposed by former Environment Minister Jan Dusík, who commissioned and publicly released a nonbinding but highly critical report on the project earlier this year, which led to a furious row with Prime Minister Jan Fischer. As a result, Dusík was forced to resign in March, while claiming he was put under intense pressure to issue a favorable EIA for CEZ and approve the $1.3 billion expansion and reconstruction plan. CEZ generates 73 percent of the electricity on the Czech market and controls 45 percent of the distribution market.
Dusik was replaced by Jakub Sebesta on 21 Marc. he stayed in office for three weeks and was then replaced by Rut Bízková on 15 April.
But Bízková is a former C?EZ employee – she was its spokeswoman in the 1990s – and it is widely believed that her appointment was engineered to rubber stamp a biased environmental report that will allow CEZ to move forward with its plans.
So confident is CEZ of a favourable report that the company has, reportedly, already ordered technology worth several billions of crowns for the project. CEZ would have to pay millions of crowns in penalties if the report went against it and the project had to be scrapped.