News that Prague-listed utility ČEZ will sell one or two coal-burning power plants with a capacity of 800–1,000 MW in a bid to end a European Commission probe into suspected anti-competitive behavior (and in line with plans to divest from carbon-emitting power generation capacity) has been welcomed by the markets. State-controlled ČEZ — which denies any wrongdoing — had faced a fine of up to 10 percent of its 2008 global turnover of $5.2 billion.
Czech billionaire Pavel Tykač, the owner of leading lignite miner Czech Coal, said in an interview for the daily Mladá fronta Dnes published Thursday — his first in 15 years — that no other party, including rival Energetický a Průmyslový Holding (EPH), will outbid him for state-c0ntrolled utility ČEZ’s coal-fired Počerady and Chvaletice plants.
ČEZ has says it has established a stand-alone company into which its 1,000 MW coal-fired Počerady plant can be slotted as negotiations heat up over its future. Počerady could be a pawn into a new coal supply deal with Czech Coal or could be sold to energy group EPH.
Two ambitious Czech power firms are lined up to fight over ageing coal-fired power plants state-controlled that electricity giant ČEZ has signaled it is willing to offload. The two plants were already on offer to miner Czech Coal as part ČEZ’s move to assure long-term coal supplies. EPH now says it is also willing to bid — amid speculation it wants to deprive Czech Coal of a foothold in the power production sector.
A Czech environmental NGO believes it has firm grounds for challenging the bid by Czech power giant ČEZ for millions of “free” carbon emissions allocations worth billions of crowns and is ready to submit its arguments to the European Commission in Brussels, where the Czech allocations program must be approved. The Environmental Law Service (EPS) says it will also be disputing bids of other Czech-based companies.
Bitter energy rivals ČEZ and Czech Coal appear to have entered a new stage of talks over coal supplies and power plants with the state-controlled power producer willing to throw in an unwanted 800 MW coal-fired power plant into the negotiations in order to end a six-year-old wrangle which has spread outside the country's borders to involve EU competition officials.
Reports Monday by the Czech daily Lidové noviny that Czech power giant ČEZ faced a widened European Commission probe into suspected anti-competitive practices was negative news for the company, according to Czech analysts. But the state-controlled company sought to remedy damage later saying the paper had put out a false report and no such step has been taken or is envisaged.
Czech power giant ČEZ claimed it was cleared of acusations of distorting competition by the Euroean Commission on Friday and accused rival Czech Coal of trying to widen a bilteral dispute by bringing in Brussels officials. But ČEZ is nonetheless still facing a formal investigation for allegedly hoarding electricity capacity — and could still face a massive fine if found guilty.