The Slovenia Times

Coal region welcomes govt strategy for phasing out coal


Šoštanj/Velenje/Ljubljana - The Šalek Valley, the only active coal region in the country, home to the TEŠ coal-fired power station and a coal mine, welcomed on Friday the government's strategy to phase out coal for electricity production by 2033. The Šoštanj municipality said the region now faced the challenge of phasing out coal in a just way that will not harm the people.

The municipality, which is home to the Šoštanj Thermal Power Plant (TEŠ), stressed that after the government endorsed 2033 as the year of closing of the Premogovnik Velenje coal mine, a bill on the gradual closing of the mine must urgently be adopted to clearly define all activities and most importantly, determine who will remediate the degraded areas and when.

A bill on the restructuring of the region also needs to be adopted, the municipality told the STA.

"We face big challenges. We need to provide for an economically sustainable substitute district heating system, secure appropriate land for new business facilities that will come to our valley offering appropriate jobs to our people, and we need to make sure that Premogovnik Velenje workers get other jobs.

"Local communities and the state must make sure that we use all EU funds available for this purpose 200%," the municipality said.

The Velenje municipality will comment on the new strategy on Monday.

Power utility HSE, which owns both TEŠ and the Velenje coal mine, also welcomed the government strategy, saying 2033 would be a milestone for all future activities associated with the group's thermal energy division.

HSE will take a comprehensive and responsible approach to the restructuring of the Velenje mine and TEŠ in cooperation with experts at both companies and with the state, and will be actively involved in the socially and economically just transition to a carbon-free society.

HSE too hopes that a bill to shut down Premogovnik Velenje, the only active coal mine in Slovenia, would be adopted soon to secure funding for the implementation of the necessary measures.

The head of the Savinja-Šalek Chamber of Commerce, Rok Plankelj, said he was happy that a strategy had been adopted and the year of phaseout set, as this would be the basis for all other legislative motions and activities in the region, and the drawing of funds for the economic restructuring of the region and new job creation.

"The year itself is not a particular surprise as 2033 has been mentioned in the media for a while. What is important is that now all activities of all stakeholders in the restructuring, including all state institutions, start, and that in the coming years we make sure that the supply of electricity is stable and undisturbed, and thus provide for the stability of the economy," Plankelj told the STA.

TEŠ and Premogovnik Velenje responded to the news on Thursday by saying that the green transformation put them both before a demanding and responsible task. They noted that expert guidelines were being drawn up and that they cooperated with relevant stakeholders.


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