Who and what is behind dismissal of Ukraine's Energoatom nuclear energy generating company head?

Author : Olena Holubeva

Nedashkovsky’s tense relations with Oleksiy Orzhel, the Minister of Energy and the Environment, were well known
22:03, 3 December 2019

Open source

The news of Yuriy Nedashkovsky’s dismissal of the president of State Enterprise “National Nuclear Energy Generating Company “Energoatom” (he has been occupying it since March 2014, and before that he twice headed the state-owned company managing the country's nuclear generation: from February 2005 to October 2006, and then from June 2008 to August 2012) was not unexpected. Nedashkovsky’s tense relations with Oleksiy Orzhel, the Minister of Energy and the Environment, were well known. Prime Minister Oleksiy Honcharuk confirmed that the decision was made on the initiative of Orzhel.

November 6, Nedashkovsky himself talked about the ministerial meetings held with the participation of Energoatom - the head of the company attended them personally. During the meeting, the minister informed Nedashkovsky about the decision not to join VostGOK ore-dressing and processing enterprise to Energoatom, but to seek a private partner for the only uranium miner in Ukraine. "The Minister said that there would be no joining of one inefficient enterprise to another inefficient enterprise. I asked the question: what is the inefficiency of Energoatom?" Nedashkovsky said then.

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To the direct question of whether there is a conflict between him and the Minister of Energy and the Environment, whether he will lead to his resignation, the head of Energoatom did not answer then, calling what was happening a "work process." However, the fact that the situation is much more serious than he wanted to show was clear from a speech of media director of the Nuclear Forum Association Olga Kosharnaya (Energoatom is one of the founders of the Association).

Orzhel, meanwhile, did not voice any public reaction, not mentioning a word about nuclear energy, Energoatom, and its president, or a personnel decision being prepared on his initiative the day before the presentation of the strategy of the agency entrusted to him for 2020. Only the next day, after the announcement of the dismissal of Nedashkovsky, a message appeared on the Ministry’s website that the president of Energoatom had been dismissed due to non-fulfillment of financial plans, suspicion of embezzlement of public funds and inefficient management.

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At the X International Investment Forum on Renewable Energy, the co-founder of the Ukrainian Association of Renewable Energy, a member of the Innovation Council under the Prime Minister, Ihor Tynny, criticized the ex-head of Energoatom.

He explained that there is a separate storage facility for Chornobyl station waste (fuel that is discharged from decommissioned power units): “Energoatom separately builds its storage facility, in addition to which it collects the residues after liquidation... they are all in the same zone. They all for some reason are land rather than underground. Each of them is building its own infrastructure. If fewer pollutants were concentrated in one place, it would be more efficient, it seems to me. The number of staff could be optimized."

Ihor Tynny has his own vision of solving the problem. Recently, the Renewable Energy Association sent a letter to the President, the Verkhovna Rada and the Cabinet of Ministers stating the need to ensure a transition to a market price model for the population (abolition of PSO).

In response to this, the Association members agree to abolish the benefits and are ready to pay the excise tax on the sale of electricity generated from renewable energy sources (in the amount of 3.2%), but provided that these funds are allocated to a special state budget fund to finance the payment of benefits and subsidies low-income citizens. And it is precisely for this that Energoatom is needed as a producer of the cheapest of all types of electricity generation.

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Nedashkovsky actively resisted the desire to make Energoatom a tool to relieve price tensions in the electricity market and insisted that the company should sell a larger percentage of electricity in the market at a market price, making a profit from this. Ex-president of Energoatom said that if a state-owned company enters the segment of bilateral agreements (now it can trade the remaining 10% of the production volume remaining in the special prices milieu only in the “one-day-ahead” market segment), prices will be market-oriented, but at the same time, due to the low cost of nuclear energy for industry, they might significantly decrease.

Is it possible to consider that this is the only reason for the dismissal of Nedashkovsky? It is not clear to, however, how there are no answers to other questions. Who will take his post at Energoatom? Is there already a specific person for this position and was this a personnel decision specifically for this new person? Should we be afraid of losing their posts to the tops of other state-owned companies that fell under the flurry of criticism of Orzhel or Tynny? And finally, can Igor Tynny really influence the decisions of the Ministry of Energy and the Environment, or doesn’t he really have much leverage as is attributed to him?

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