The amendment to the line act, which originally mainly concerned transport constructions, became a law on the future shape of the Czech energy industry thanks to the contribution of the deputies. Unplanned, the MPs managed to push contracts on the equalization regime, known abroad as Contract for Difference, into the line law. Other approved proposals with an impact on the energy sector are presented by the Ekonomický deník in the following overview.
Deputy Libor Turek (ODS) came up with the aforementioned proposal. According to the approved form of the amendment, the contract on the equalization regime means the contract concluded between the Czech Republic, the market operator and the investor in the new power plant. The latter will be entitled to a minimum guaranteed price for electricity produced in a low-carbon production plant and delivered to the electricity system of the Czech Republic.
It is a stabilizing price mechanism that guarantees an investor in a new (for example, a nuclear) power plant a return on the invested investment. Turk’s proposal was supported exclusively by the coalition parties, the majority of ANO MPs and all SPD representatives present voted against.
Environmental organizations criticize the fine approval of such an important measure. “The entire proposal to expand the possibility of financial support for investors of new reactors at the expense of electricity consumers should have gone through a standard discussion in the government, should have submitted impact analyzes and should also have passed control by the Legislative Council of the Government. Nothing like that happened in violation of the rules of procedure of the Chamber of Deputies and the program statement of the government,” pointed out Eduard Sequens from the ecological association Calla and warned of a negative impact on the final electricity prices.
On the contrary, coalition politicians are satisfied with the final form of the law. “We have carefully selected key areas that are necessary to ensure faster decarbonization and maintain our country’s energy security. The amendment introduces clear and fast processes for permitting new and modernized energy sources. This will help us reduce red tape and enable faster implementation of such projects. In the same way, we are speeding up the rules for the construction of electronic communications infrastructure or permitting for the transmission, transport or distribution system, which applies to both electricity and gas, as well as heat.” said Minister of Industry and Trade Jozef Síkela.
Sensitive acquisitions only with a stamp from the state
Member of Parliament Libor Turek pushed through other amendments to the law. The one that grants the Ministry of Industry and Trade the right to grant consent to the acquisition of influence over strategic companies or assets in the energy sector is noteworthy. The Ministry is to issue a decision on the application no later than 60 days after the start of the procedure. The state will thus be able to refuse the sale of strategic assets to a “problem” investor who would threaten the security of electricity, gas or heat supplies in the Czech Republic.
And that’s not all. An investor who exercises influence over an energetically strategic whole will be obliged in given cases to offer the ministry, or a company under state control, the transfer of its share or sale at the usual price. The state could thus prevent the sale of strategically important assets, for example, into the hands of companies connected to Russia.
Permission for strategic buildings without the possibility of appeal
The economic committee’s large package of amendments introduces the concept of “building for energy security.” This category includes nuclear reactors and related buildings, structures and equipment of the electricity system, gas systems or thermal energy supply systems, as well as storage of fresh or spent nuclear fuel.
At the same time, the deputies inserted into the law the sentence that “no appeal is admissible against the decision to permit the construction plan for energy security.” The deadline for filing a lawsuit against the decisions issued in the proceedings on these constructions is one month. The court must decide on the lawsuits within 90 days.
Strengthening control over mineral wealth
Another new term in the law is “Deposit of Strategic Importance”. This means a deposit of critical minerals, which is of extraordinary importance for ensuring the raw material or energy security of the state or for carrying out constructions according to the line law. According to the approved amendment to the law, deposits of strategic importance are determined by the government in its regulation.
In the amendment, radioactive minerals (uranium), oil and natural gas are designated as critical minerals, as well as minerals from which it is possible to industrially produce metals or to obtain elements of rare earths or elements with semiconductor properties. And, somewhat surprisingly, also building stone and gravel, which, according to the Ministry of Transport, will be needed in the construction of highways and railways.
Green for the STORK II gas pipeline
Almost all the deputies present approved the addition of the Libhošť – Hať high-pressure gas pipeline to the annex, which contains a list of strategic buildings with preferential access. This is a project better known as STORK II. Within four years, this should bring sufficient interconnection of the Czech and Polish gas pipeline systems and enable the import of natural gas from Polish LNG terminals.
CCS technology support
Member of Parliament Antonín Tesařík (KDU-ČSL) together with other Members of Parliament pushed through an amendment to Act No. 85/2012 Coll., on the storage of carbon dioxide in natural rock structures, stating that carbon dioxide storage and the transport network are public benefit structures. Further amendments to the subject of carbon storage (CCS) underground will also be reflected in the Building Act.
“Current legislation and the time frame of legislative processes greatly complicate the implementation of potential environmental projects in the area of capturing and storing carbon dioxide in geological formations. Buildings and equipment for the storage of carbon dioxide are still not reserved buildings according to Annex 3 of the Building Act. Other constructions carried out for special interventions in the earth’s crust, or mining activities, are listed in this appendix,” said deputy Tesařík in the justification of his proposal.
Next stop: the senate
The amendment to Act No. 416/2009 Coll., on speeding up the construction of transport, water and energy infrastructure and electronic communications infrastructure (the so-called line act), was approved by 153 of the 155 deputies present on Friday, November 3. Approval in the senate will follow. You can read more about the Line Act and its impact on the field of transport in previously published reports of the Economic Journal:
The Chamber of Deputies is to discuss an amendment to the line act today, it will have to deal with dozens of amendments
The line act will apparently become a law on strategic infrastructure, the House of Representatives decided. It will also apply to buildings for energy security