One year since the onset of one of the biggest challenges our society has faced, all ContourGlobal Maritsa East employees are working every day
A year since the Covid-19 pandemic has reached Bulgaria, the return to the everyday life we were used to is still a chimera. Many businesses operate with different restrictions, other have completely changed their model. And some had to adapt to the new conditions and continue to operate stably, following strict safety measures, like the electricity producers did.
ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP, one of the key capacities in the Maritsa East energy complex, was among those who, just a year ago, quickly and decisively restructured all work processes in order to continue producing electricity in the face of the constraints and risks imposed by the emergency of the unknown virus. Using entirely local resources, the power plant provides electricity all year round, meeting the needs of nearly 1 million Bulgarian households, and has a vital importance for the stable operation of the country's energy system.
"Exactly a year has passed since we had to unexpectedly and quickly reorganize our activities in three main areas - keeping our employees healthy, guaranteeing energy supplies and helping limit the spreading of the virus. A challenging task that can only be solved when you are working with a strong team," says Krassimir Nenov, Executive Director of ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3. "After the measures taken, the power plant continued to operate optimally, but in a state of emergency - strict anti-epidemic measures were introduced, additional logistics and special infrastructure were provided allowing ContourGlobal Maritsa East TPP to continue producing electricity even in deteriorated epidemiological conditions and if necessary– working in complete isolation.
"Even the most up-to-date of facilities is just a collection of components, if it lacks a good and well-trained team. We had to protect employees, as well asall subcontractors and suppliers. We restricted the outside access, created remote work conditions, provided additional safety equipment and a safe social distance. We are disinfecting work premises, vehicles, heavy machinery. These are measures not just against Covid-19, but in the name of security of the energy system. They are still valid today and we comply with them with the responsibility required," explains the Health and Safety manager at the power plant, Nikolay Kolev.
In the last pandemic year, the power plant has reached an impressive total of 13.8 million man-hours without a single working accident involving lost working time. ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 has invested more than BGN 850,000 in protecting the health of its staff and providing a safe working environment in pandemic conditions. This includes the 12,000 PCR and the 10,000 antigen tests performed, which provide adequate monitoring of the health status not only of the company's employees but also of the many subcontractors working on the power plant’s premises daily. Compliance with the measures is being monitored strictly and uncompromisingly, including through the use of new technologies. "The tasks are the same, but in much more complex conditions, and the epidemic has even built-up our sense of responsibility towards society. For the period of the emergency, we have produced 10.5% of the electricity in the country. Let me illustrate - this equates to the average annual needs of nearly one million Bulgarian households. We maintain the necessary stocks of fuels, raw materials and spare parts, so that should there be any supply issues, they do not affect the reliability of electricity generation. One year since the pandemic’s onset, I can say that I am hugely grateful to all colleagues from the power plant for their dedication and professionalism," added Krassimir Nenov.
No employee has lost their job despite the pandemic and the difficult economic situation. In addition to the nearly 500 direct jobs, more than 4,000 other jobs that serve the company's needs, have been retained. "We have encountered a number of difficulties in reorganizing our activities, but our operational results for 2020 are very good. Our business and way of life have changed, but we have preserved the efficiency and integrity of our specific functions - providing electricity 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We have completed the important annual scheduled repairs and we are ready to take on any load that the power system requires," Alexander Zhelev, who recently became ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 TPP’s chief engineer.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the power plant has invested more than BGN 400,000 in helping the community cope with Covid-19. As early as April 2020, ContourGlobal joined the “United versus Covid-19” Fund with BGN 100,000; most of the funding generated by the Fund - over BGN 1 million - was distributed among hospitals and medical institutions in over 15 municipalities across the country. Without forgetting its closest neighbors during this difficult period, on several occasions the power plant provided assistance to the hospital in Galabovo, cultural institutions, schools and social centers in the Stara Zagora region. Thus, a year since the onset of one of the biggest challenges our society has faced, all ContourGlobal Maritsa East 3 employees are working every day with a mission and hope - the mission of contributing, through the energy they produce, for the people’s better life and the business’ steady operation, and with the hope that together we will overcome this ordeal soon.