Tomáš Hüner was eased out of the ministry after distancing himself from the current draft energy concept and being perceived as a Topolánek man
The Ministry of Industry and Trade’s (MPO) deputy minister in charge of energy policy, Tomáš Hüner, will step down from his post on Oct. 10 and be replaced by state-controlled electricity company ČEZ’s nuclear expert, František Pazdera, who is also the deputy director of its production division for science and research.
Hüner, who is among the country’s most-respected energy experts also came to the ministry from ČEZ. He was previously with one of the country’s biggest regional electricity distribution companies. Hüner will stay on as head of the supervisory board of the high-voltage electricity grid operator ČEPS and the energy market operator, OTE. Both companies are state-owned.
Industry and Trade Ministry Martin Kocourek (Civic Democrat, ODS) had been pushing for Hüner’s departure since this spring. The deputy minister had been expected to go on Sept. 1, but the step was postponed because Kocourek at that stage did not know what other posts to offer Hüner as compensation for his voluntary departure.
The main reasons for Hüner’s leaving are the fact that he does not belong to any political party but was perceived to be close to former ODS prime minister Mirek Topolánek.
The main reasons for Hüner’s leaving are the fact that he does not belong to any political party but was perceived to be close to former prime minister Mirek Topolánek (ODS).
Hüner had also been pressing hard for the end of 20-year-old limits on mining brown coal, or lignite, in the northwest of the country, a move that created fiction within the center-right government coalition. Furthermore, he had also distanced himself from the latest draft of his ministry’s strategic energy concept, which departed from the previous version which he had championed.
The latest energy concept, which includes scenarios based on an ambitious expansion of Czech nuclear energy, bears the heavy fingerprints of his replacement, Pazdera.
Pazdera is a convinced champion of nuclear power having spent most of his working life in the sector. His appointment as deputy minister was already being spoken about in August but Prime Minister Petr Nečas (ODS) apparently got cold feet about the idea of giving the job to a ČEZ employee when Martin Roman was removed as the high-profile head of the Prague-listed company in mid-September. A political deal apparently paved the way for Pazdera to get back in the running to become deputy minister.
Hüner’s leaving is likely to complicate the state’s bid to try piece together a strategy for oil products storage company and processor Čepro. Hüner was up to speed with the dossier, which includes the possibility of finding foreign partners/shareholders for the company which could strengthen its position, but Pazdera will have to do his homework here.
An inter-ministerial commission has been created to try and put together a strategy for Čepro and state-owned oil pipeline operator Mero.