Isamaa leader: Kallas' energy saving plan would cause more harm than good

"Esimene stuudio", Wednesday, September 14 2022. Source: ERR

Isamaa chairman Helir-Valdor Seeder rejects a suggestion from Prime Minister Kaja Kallas (Reform) whereby energy-intensive companies would shut down for a period of time, in order for energy prices to be permitted to fall.

Appearing on ETV politics panel show "Esimene studio" Wednesday, Seeder, whose party is in coalition with Kallas', said: "Please do no automatically project the views of Kaja Kallas on to the views of the entire government or coalition.

"I don't think [what Kallas said] is reasonable, and I can say that Isamaa likewise finds it unreasonable to halt the work of energy-intensive companies for the purpose of temporarily lowering prices. Not for a few hours, a few days, nor for a few weeks or months. This involves much higher risks ..." he went on.

The chair of the other coalition party, the Social Democrats (SDE) said that energy-saving agreements might be struck with the private sector.

Lauri Läänemets (SDE), who is also interior minister, said: "I don't know what exactly Kaja Kallas meant, but in reality it is viable to make such agreements with companies. If there is a company that can, for example, shift its production from daytime to nighttime, doing so with cheaper electricity, reduce the consumption of daytime electricity ... then in my opinion it is acceptable that the state would pay him for that. This can be done together with companies," he said.

Reform's Riigikogu chief whip Mart Võrklaev said that the proposal did not mean that a single company has to close down, nor that a single individual would have to sit in the cold.

He said: "It is possible to carry it out smartly, and today. Both in Estonia and in Europe, there is an awareness of how to reduce the consumption of electricity and energy by up to 10 to 20 percent, in a way hat no one has to suffer. This must be directed to the stock exchange. At present, cuts being made are not reaching the stock exchanges and consequently, pricing is not being affected."

Also appearing on "Esimene stuudio", Martin Helme, the leader of opposition party the Conservative People's Party of Estonia (EKRE), rejected the prime minister's proposal as nonsensical, espousing an almost Hegelian approach: "There seems to be this attitude that life will get worse in the future. I categorically reject that narrative. I do not agree with it. It is the duty of every politician to make sure that life gets better," adding that this would include neither needing to skimp on showering nor to wear two jumpers at a time.

Helme pointed to Estonia's oil shale reserves, which provide energy security, he said; the Russian invasion of Ukraine is not behind the soaring energy prices, he added.

Center Party chair and Riigikogu Speaker Jüri Ratas said that the already high level of inflation has prompted firms and individuals to make cuts in any case.

A situation where firms were being told not to work at night, but instead during the day, or vice versa, was: "No longer a normal business environment," he added.

Helir-Valdor Seeder said that once the move had been made to have part-shut downs or the rescheduling of shifts, not only would the previous norm be difficult to claw back, but things might even snowball into an even worse, unstable situation, which would harm Estonia's competitiveness.

The prime minister told the Riigikogu Wednesday that proposals revealed by European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen, and from the EU as a whole, to save energy may entail some energy-intensive firms having to work on reduced time, to help lower the price of electricity.

What constituted an energy-intensive company in Estonia was not reported.

Appearing on "Esimene stuudio" on Wednesday, September 14, were Helir-Valdor Seeder, Jüri Ratas, Mart Võrklaev, Martin Helme and Lauri Läänemets. Hosts and moderators were Johannes Tralla and Andres Kuusk.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Merili Nael

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