Electricity

Acting CEO of Serbia’s power utility EPS quits after several major outages

Acting CEO Serbia power utility EPS quits outages Milorad Grcic

Photo: EPS

Published

January 12, 2022

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Published:

January 12, 2022

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Acting director of Elektroprivreda Srbije (EPS) Milorad Grčić resigned from his post following five outages and fires in Serbia’s coal power industry in the past month. The thermal power plant collapse on December 11 even threatened the stability of the European grid. Grčić has held the position since 2016 in breach of rules on the management of state-owned enterprises.

An excavator that deposits mine tailings in the Kolubara coal mining basin caught fire on January 10. According to Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Mining and Energy of Serbia Zorana Mihajlović, it may take up to one year to repair the machine, bought in 2018 for almost EUR 19 million. Acting director of state-owned coal and electricity producer Elektroprivreda Srbije Milorad Grčić submitted his resignation, but he also accused Mihajlović of trying to destroy the company.

It was the fifth major incident in EPS since December 11, when the two biggest thermal power plants shut down as the lignite was laden with mud. The outage forced the country to turn to emergency imports.

The collapse at Serbia’s biggest coal-fired power plants a month ago resulted in emergency imports of electricity at high prices

ENTSO-E – the European Network of Transmission System Operators, later said it registered frequency deviations since the same date due to a drop in production in the southeast and urged for the issues to be resolved. They were exacerbated by December outages in coal-fired plants in Kosovo*.

President Aleksandar Vučić recently said Grčić needs to go, after the TENT B plant broke down again because of a fire and a damaged coal mill.

The acting director was appointed in 2016 and his term expired after one year, but he was left at the helm of the dominant power producer until now in breach of law. Program Director of Transparency Serbia Nemanja Nenadić has noted that Grčić actually didn’t qualify to become the head of EPS in the first place. He explained the chief executives of state-owned enterprises must have at least five years of relevant experience but that Grčić got a university diploma only four years before he was appointed.

Chief executives of state-owned enterprises must have at least five years of relevant experience but Grčić got a university diploma only four years before he was appointed

The domestic media and EPS union chief Milan Đorđević learned that Executive Director for Electricity Generation Technical Affairs Miroslav Tomašević is the most likely successor.

The combined costs of emergency power imports and repairs of the damages suffered in the past month are estimated at several hundred million euros. The consequences of the latest fire on electricity production are yet to be seen.

* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status and is in line with UNSCR 1244/99 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
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