Oleksandr Svetelik: I’ve Never Envied Ministers

Oleksandr Svetelik: I’ve Never Envied Ministers

Oleksandr Svetelik, the President of CIGRE’s Ukrainian National Committee, talks of the energy strategy, the influence of oligarchs on the energy sector, and shares why he does not envy ministers.

TerminaL sits down with the President of CIGRE’s Ukrainian National Committee, Oleksandr Svetelik for a cup of coffee at ten in the morning. It is already his fourth one. There were times when their count reached 20.

An honored power engineer of Ukraine, Mr Svetelik has spent over forty years in the energy industry. He does not like to compare different eras; however, he believes today’s situation in the Ukrainian energy industry is rather difficult and decisive at the same time.

«Non-governmental organizations of experts traditionally fall on deaf ears among the Ukrainian authorities,» he said. «But there are different examples globally. The experience people from these organizations have got is truly enormous, and it seems to me, it would be a sin to not use it.»

One of such organizations is CIGRE (Conseil International des Grands Reseaux Electriques), the International Council for Large Electrical Systems, founded in Paris in 1921, unites electricity producers from 90 countries.

CIGRE and its national committees do not interfere in politics and financial matters. They study and develop technical solutions for the power industry, collecting the world’s best examples of innovations in the field.

3N8A9465Until 1991, Ukraine was a member of CIGRE as part of the Soviet Union, and since 1994, it has been an independent participant. In 2004, the organization’s Ukrainian National Committee was created, which Mr Svetelik has been chairing since 2015.

In December 2016, the Ukrainian unit of CIGRE initiated the creation of a kind of a national discussion club, the Joint Council of Energy Experts (JCEE).

In addition to CIGRE, it includes five leading public organizations in the Ukrainian energy sector: the All-Ukrainian Energy Assembly, the Energy Association of Ukraine, the Ukrhydroenergo Association, the Ukrainian League of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs, and the Ukrainian Wind Energy Association.

However, the doors of the JCEE are open to all specialists. Within the framework of this platform, experts will raise the problems of the electric power industry, submit them for discussion, and create solutions.

Mr Svetelik has told TerminaL why Ukraine needs CIGRE, elaborated on his view on Ukraine’s energy strategy, and the influence of oligarchs on the national energy industry.

For several decades you have retained leading positions within different governments. Is there any continuity of power in energy policy?

You know, probably I’m a happy man. The government has never bothered me. The only thing that happened with the change of government, which is natural, was revision and a cautious attitude to what had been done previously.

First, the new government says: «Before us, renewable energy – for example, solar energy – was introduced, though it shouldn’t have been.» They would say, this was some kind of nonsense – we have conventional power industry. Then a new man in the leadership delves into why the world has followed this path, then the rhetoric changes and the issue starts to be worked out. As I see it, within a year, the criticism develops into the continuity you’ve mentioned.

If we talk about lobbying for some interests of the industry, why not do it? Someone likes hydropower energy, the others like nuclear power, so I do not see any real problems here.

In your opinion, what influence do the people who we call «oligarchs» have on the Ukrainian energy industry?

It’s huge. In the winter of 2014, someone interviewed Konstantin Grigorishin [the Russian-Ukrainian businessman, the president of the Energy Standard Group]. Konstantin suddenly says: «I recommended [to the Minister of Energy and Coal Industry in the Government of Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Volodymyr Demchyshyn] Svetelik for a deputy minister’s post. And here we go! I’m suddenly deemed a protégé of an oligarch!

Read full interview — I’ve Never Envied Ministers.

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