Chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office faces more criminal charges over fraudulent licenses; ČEZ buys a back-up heating source for Prague; NWR considers selling Czech assets and closing down a mine; Česá zbrojovka arms producer lower suspends handgun deliveries to Egypt; RegioJet to sue Czech Railways for price dumping.
Energy Regulatory Office chairwoman faces more criminal charges
The police have proposed leveling charges against 10 people in connection with a case of fraudulent solar power station licenses. Among the potential suspects in the case is the chairwoman of the Energy Regulatory Office Alena Vitásková who earlier denied any wrongdoing. The police accuse the group of applying and receiving a license for two photovoltaic power stations in 2010 before the construction of the plants was finished in order to get a better price for the sale of electricity they would produce. Ms. Vitásková, who has been in her current position for the past two years, was also accused this March of aiding in a criminal act and abuse of power for allegedly obstructing a police investigation of suspicious licenses.
ČEZ expands heating capacities in Prague
In an effort to improve its position in Prague’s energy sector, the state-owned energy firm ČEZ has purchased an 85 percent share in the company Areál Třeboradice which owns a back-up heating energy source on the northern outskirts of the city. Třeboradice separated from their now former mother company Pražská teplárenská less than a year ago. The plant will allow ČEZ to have an alternative heating source for customers in the capital in case their main source in Mělník were to fail. ČEZ began solidifying its place in Prague’s heating sector in 2011 when it purchased the company Energotrans from Pražská teplárenská and the main heating duct servicing the eastern part of the city.
NWR contemplates cost-saving measures in view of unexpected losses
One of the region’s leading coal and coke producers New World Resources (NWR), which owns the Czech black coal mining company OKD, announced overall losses of more than 10 billion crowns in the second quarter of this year. Due to a drop in demand and a decrease in coal prices, NWR is considering selling some of its assets which will most likely include its coking plant OKK in Ostrava. The company also admitted this week that OKD’s Paskov mine in northern Moravia is unsustainable and that they are considering temporarily or permanently closing down the mine, though not before the end of 2014. NWR also announced a number of cost-saving measures for the upcoming six months, which will include laying off 250 administrative staff at OKD.
Zbrojovka suspends arms exports to Egypt
The Czech firearms manufacturer Česká zbrojovka Uherský Brod has suspended deliveries of the CZ P-07 handguns to the Egyptian Interior Ministry, following concerns by humanitarian organizations. The company signed a year-long contract with the ministry last year to provide 50,000 handguns and hundreds of submachine guns for Egypt’s police force. In view of continuing clashes between government forces and protesters in the country, the human rights group Amnesty International has called on all countries exporting weapons to Egypt, which could be used by the police or military against protesters, to suspend deliveries. Zbrojovka, which had already delivered at least 15 thousand handguns to the country, agreed to suspend the contract.
RegioJet to sue Czech Rail for price dumping
Private train operator RegioJet has announced that it will be suing Czech Railways for allegedly setting below-market prices for tickets on the Prague-Ostrava line, where RegioJet also operates. The company’s owner Radim Jančura told Mladá fronta Dnes that Czech Railways abused their dominant position on that line, leaving RegioJet with 270 million crowns in damages due to price dumping. The company has already filed a complaint with the Czech anti-monopoly watchdog. The arrival of RegioJet in late 2011 on the Prague-Ostrava route caused ticket prices to go down by almost half, which decreased further after another private operator LEO Express began running trains on the route.