VMRO-DPMNE will not allow the closure of REK Bitola, Macedonia’s largest coal fired plant, said party leader Hristijan Mickoski during a round table in Bitola, a city whose economy, as the economy of Macedonia, is held together by the plant. Coal mining in Bitola collapsed under the DUI-SDSM Government, which commits to close the plant wants to replace baseline energy production with solar. The plant is now dependent on coal imported from Albania, whose different chemical characteristics have caused significant damage to the three Bitola generators.

We pay 100 million EUR a year for imported coal. The money goes to several little known companies who bring poor quality coal with large quantities of sulphur, which poisons Bitola and the wider area. There are additional contracts worth 150 million EUR linked to the plant who go to companies favored by the Government, with advance payments ahead of the elections, Mickoski said during a round table in Bitola that was focused on the dramatic energy crisis the country faces. Professor Konstantin Dimitrov added that what Bitola needs at the moment is the construction of a gas fired generator near the city, that will also supply Bitola with heating water, and another one near Skopje.

Party official Sanja Bozinovska announced that after the May elections, the next VMRO led Government will create an Energy Ministry that will focus on repairing the damage that was done. “Energy is something you must plan ahead, it’s not an issue that is resolved in a matter of months”, Bozinovska said.

She condemned the attempt by the DUI – SDSM Government to give very favorable terms to a Greek company to build a gas plant near Skopje, that would be supplied by LNG gas.

The deal was strongly criticized by experts, who say that Greece will use it to syphon billions out of Macedonia at greatly inflated prices. The DUI – SDSM Government failed to move forward with another major deal that was supposed to be implemented by a Greek company – the Cebren hydro plant – and there is no work being done on the two large solar plants that are supposed to be built by EU based investors.

All these strategic investments are receiving major subsidies from the country. They get to lease land for 0.1 EUR per square meter for 25 to 30 years, Bozinova added.

Mickoski promised that VMRO-DPMNE will move ahead with the Cebren project, but only after a serious analysis. “This reservoir will benefit Macedonia as a state and it is of crucial importance, it’s a centennial project. It will serve for irrigation for tens of thousands of hectares of arable land”, said Mickoski, who was head of the ELEM energy producing company until the SDSM powergrab in 2017.