Calls for government to initiate first phase of emergency energy plan

Calls for government to initiate first phase of emergency energy plan
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In light of rapidly rising energy prices, French-speaking opposition party Les Engagés asked the Federal Government on 23 August to activate the first step of its emergency energy plan, adopting the established “early warning” measures.

The party says that the move is now essential considering the potential energy crisis facing Belgium during the winter.

“We ask, from the start of the school year, that the competent ministers explain to the deputies how they are going to deal with this exceptional situation and according to what procedures,” deputies Georges Dallemand, François Desquesnes, and Christophe De Beukelaer said in a party press release.

The emergency energy plans are a three-tiered system, including a pre-alert phase, alert phase, and emergency phase.

Taking the lead from our neighbours

If Belgium were to move to the first step of its emergency plans, as neighbouring nation Germany has done, Federal authorities would step up their monitoring of the European energy market although no restraints would be placed upon consumers.

In the second stage of the plans, Belgium would draw more intensively from its gas reserves and would begin to import more liquified natural gas (LNG) from abroad.

The final stage of the plan would include rationing gas and electricity and may even see some customers disconnected from supply. Les Engagés are only calling for Belgium to move to the first step of the plan, which would have only minor secondary effects on consumers.

Preparing for a difficult winter

The party is also advocating for the implementation of short-term energy-saving measures, such as limiting public lighting, reducing the heating of public buildings, prohibiting short-distance flights, and reducing speed limits on the motorway. These measures will be needed to help reach the European target to reduce energy consumption by 15%.

In the medium term, Les Engagés say that they are ready to support the government from the opposition, in order for the current government to build up “the courage” to take action, which they will likely be politically unpopular, but nevertheless important.

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Unlike the current government coalition, which has sought to transition away from nuclear energy, only recently reversing its decision to shutter Doel 4 and Tihange 3, Les Engagés would like to see the government develop new nuclear capacities.

“Yes, it is essential to prolong nuclear power as much as possible,” says MP Christophe De Beaukelaer. “But we have to tell people the truth: even by extending Belgium's entire nuclear capacity, we remain 82% dependent on gas and oil... Nuclear power alone will not save us.”

The party is also advocating for the government to invest more heavily into hydrogen power, as well as establish a new method for setting prices on the energy market.

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