Minister: Electricity policy responsibility up to people to decide for themselves

Kristen Michal appearing on Tuesday's edition of
Kristen Michal appearing on Tuesday's edition of "Esimene stuudio". Source: ERR

Criticism contained in a report on the Estonian state's energy policy by the National Audit Office (Riigikontroll) issued earlier this week can be assessed individually by each and every person, Climate Minister Kristen Michal (Reform) says.

The report, published Monday, stated that Estonia could be facing a significant problem in its energy security supply in around four years from now, due to a lack of both managed generation capacity and external interconnections, as well as insufficient exploitation of the country's renewable electricity potential.

This will also do little to help achieve competitive electricity prices.

Appearing on ETV politics show "Esimene stuudio" Tuesday, Michal said that the data on which the audit office's report is based, is outdated.

As for who is responsible for this, Michal said, rather gnomically, that: "This can be for everyone to decide for themselves, who is responsible for this."

On being asked whether he felt any responsibility, since some current energy policy decisions were made during his tenure as minister of economic affairs and infrastructure, back in 2015-2016, Michal, who became climate minister after the portfolio was first announced in April this year, said: "I definitely feel that. During my time in office, for instance, a decision was made to abandon the previous renewable energy schemes, which had clearly been too burdensome for the tax payer, and to arrive at today's system of lowered supply, which brings us new renewable capacities and at a cheaper price for the tax payer. So this is really responsibility which has positive results."

The audit office report is based on an Elering security of supply report from last year, Michal added, making it outdated.

There are also claims that we don't have a solution for what will happen before 2027, for example, with controlled capacities. I can state that there are different solutions," he went on, noting the Elering Kiisa power plant and Eesti Energia's planned hydrogen plant as providing up to 500 MW in reserve capacity.

"Until 2027, we actually have 1,000 MW of Narva plants in reserve. In 2025, Elering will organize the procurement of this system service," he added.

"Eesti Energia will probably have to be paid for securing these reserves, this estimate is somewhere around 40 million per year. Or new investments will arise against it, and it is up to Elering to organize it," said the minister.

"Estonia's security of supply in general is still fine," Michal added.

The burning question for Estonia in the near future is what consumers will get in return for the construction of renewable capacities, including in terms of job creation, prices and services

"If we want to move forward as a state and as a nation, we must receive new economic development as well," he stressed.

Michal demurred more on the question of a future nuclear plant in Estonia, adding that a report which will form the basis of a debate on the matter will be ready by year-end, while at the same time counseling against the folly of that debate being held purely on the basis of emotion and ignorance.

"I am rather on the side that everyone should read the report and come to their own decisions. I believe in numbers when it comes to energy," Michal said.

According to the audit office report, issues relating to capacity and external connectivity going unresolved will lead to the risk that electricity prices will rise to levels, unacceptable to Estonian society, necessitating urgent decisions from 2027 onward.

In preparation for exceptionally high electricity prices, the Ministry of Climate must develop support schemes, based on consumer needs, which could be implemented quickly when needed.

Support measures were rolled out in winter 2021-2022, after energy prices had risen to unprecedented levels, but this was carried out by local government. The following winter, support measures had been put in place by the state.


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Editor: Andrew Whyte, Aleksander Krjukov

Source: 'Esimene stuudio'

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