Engie Coal Sale. Diagram source Trading Economics, annotated, Fair Use, Low Resolution Image to Identify the Subject.

Dumping Coal Assets Near the Bottom of the Market a Green Energy Success?

Essay by Eric Worrall

“Her … contract was not renewed”: A recent 4000 attendee climate change summit in Paris came up with some interesting ideas on promoting renewable energy to company boards.

Incentivizing Boards Of Directors To Address Climate Change, At ChangeNow Summit

Joan Michelson

To truly avoid reaching that potentially irreversibly devastating 1.5 degrees Celsius warming – which the UN’s World Meteorological Organization just announced that we’ll cross in a few years – we need every aspect of the economy to take action, literally.

At the ChangeNow 2023 Summit in Paris, France last week with over 4,000 attendees from 120 countries and across industries, gathered to strategize how to do that and share solutions, as well as to make deals.

Isabelle Kocher de Leyritz explained in one of my sessions at ChangeNow how she did just that as CEO of Engie, one of Europe’s largest fossil fuel energy companies. She talked about how the board asked her, then CFO, to develop a plan to transition the company and then elevated her to the CEO role to execute her plan. She told us about the robust debates she had with Engie’s board of directors, and how she persuaded them to sell off coal assets and invest that money into renewable energy assets instead. Now CEO of Blunomy, a consultancy, her Engie contract was not renewed, but Engie remains in renewable energy.

Read more: https://www.forbes.com/sites/joanmichelson2/2023/05/28/incentivizing-boards-of-directors-to-address-climate-change-at-changenow-summit/?sh=24d9ee77722d

Engie CEO Isabelle Kocher de Leyritz announced the deal to sell Engie’s European coal assets on the 26 April 2019, close to the bottom of the coal price cycle.

Shortly after disposing of European coal assets in 2019, in February 2020, Engie announce they would not be renewing Isabelle’s CEO contract.

… In an interview with French newspaper Les Echos, Clamadieu explained the board blamed Kocher for Engie “falling behind over four years in the area of electricity generation and gas infrastructure, which now represents 80% of our profits”.

Engie’s stock price opened at €15.63 on 7 February — down from the previous close of €15.71/share — following the announcement. Its shares continued to fall as low as €15.51. …

Read more: https://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1673343/engie-will-not-renew-ceo-kochers-contract

Engie didn’t just own coal plants, they also owned at least some of the adjacent coal mines. Isabelle was CEO when Engie decided to close the Australian Hazelwood plant, which used to provide 25% of the State of Victoria’s energy.

… Engie shuttered Hazelwood with just five months’ notice in 2017 – a scenario that the Victorian government has avoided with Yallourn by arranging with its owner to close the plant, which delivers about 20% of Victoria’s electricity, in 2028, four years earlier than planned.

Before Engie closed it, Hazelwood produced about 25% of Victoria’s electricity and was responsible for about 14% of the state’s emissions.

The nearby open-cut mine from which it sourced brown coal also burned out of control for 45 weeks in 2014 after a bushfire spread into it.

Engie’s chief executive for Australia and New Zealand, Augustin Honorat, said the company had a “long-term commitment” to Hazelwood and the Latrobe valley that included remediating the site and acting as “the builder and owner of a new energy asset that helps with the decarbonisation of the energy system”. …

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2021/dec/01/australias-biggest-privately-funded-battery-under-construction-at-hazelwood-power-station-site

Hazelwood produced $387 million dollars profit in 2010. Even if Hazelwood needed to be completely scrapped, a brand new 1GW HELE coal plant would cost around AUD $2.2 billion according to APO, an Aussie think tank. $387 million / year profit on a $2.2 billion investment would have been a 17.5% return on investment, as opposed to what actually happened – a site rehabilitation money pit and speculative, subsidy dependent 150MWH green battery investment, which is still struggling to arrange connection to the grid.

Obviously my interpretation of events could be wrong, my apologies to Isabelle if I have misunderstood the situation. I would be happy to publish her version of events if she gets in contact.

But something obviously went very wrong with the relationship between Isabelle Kocher de Leyritz and Engie, otherwise they would have renewed her CEO contract.

What can I say? If I have understood the situation correctly, if this is the green movement’s idea of successfully influencing an energy company to go green, I’d hate to see their idea of a failure.

Correction: h/t Mr – got my millions and billions mixed up.

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Tom Halla
May 29, 2023 10:09 am

Yeah, if that was a success,. .

Reply to  Tom Halla
May 30, 2023 6:03 am

Wasn’t it a ‘success’? – she was hired by the board of Engie expressly to guide them to the green promised land and she executed that quickly.

The board should resign too, for being a bunch of incompetent, credulous fools who shouldn’t be trusted with lunch money much less a company.

May 29, 2023 10:19 am

If this doesn’t fit Isabelle Kocher de Leyritz perfectly, I don’t know what would:

“Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools.” — Romans 1:22, Bible, King James Version

Reply to  ToldYouSo
May 29, 2023 3:24 pm

The green foolishness was so palpable back then that I started buying shares in coal-producing companies just before the time that Engie sold out (and I sold them very near the top too). Thank you greens, you helped me a lot. Now p*ss off and let the free world get back to sanity.
PS. Still no job offer from Engie.

May 29, 2023 10:27 am

Thanks Eric.
Another episode of lunacy from the expected suspects.

(BTW – you might check the investment : return numbers in this essay. “Billions”? “millions”?)

May 29, 2023 10:29 am

When all the speeches, arm waving, and virtue signaling are finished it’s Capitalism that wins the race with the people.

Richard Page
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
May 29, 2023 11:27 am

She was CEO at the time – perhaps the shareholders of Engie might have a valid case to sue her for mismanagement?

Reply to  Richard Page
May 29, 2023 11:58 am

If she was derelict in her duty in a legal sense yes. Often hard to prove.

Reply to  missoulamike
May 29, 2023 2:18 pm

If she was derelict, no one else will ever give her a CEO job. She’s finished regardless of court cases and lawsuits. In executive search processes, people get shunned regardless of legal judgments. Word gets around very rapidly that someone’s s*** really does stink.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  cgh
May 29, 2023 7:32 pm

In a sane world, a screw up of that magnitude should qualify her for a lifetime of government assistance for her rent and groceries. However, I have witnessed all too many incompetents at the VP or CEO level who have brought companies to their knees, and then went out and found another job at the same level of influence — and then repeated their performance.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
May 31, 2023 4:48 am

OTOH, I have hadd much pleasure working with some good CEOs who understood and practised the art of being a chief. One can pardon some who stray because in the big corporate scene you have few others of similar status who are sometimes kept distant for confidentiality/competition reasons and a very short list of useful books and papers. You cannot learn much from academics who have never been Chiefs themselves. It can be lonely, I am told. Geoff S

Reply to  Richard Page
May 31, 2023 2:40 am

If she has any form of employer sponsored pension scheme, and if it can be proved ( difficult but not impossible ) that she acted in a manner that is actionable, it would be great to see if there is a Lien clause in the Rules….to enable stripping back pensions rights for certain ” …..acts or omissions….

This would have been a tactic to use against Goodwin for his tenure as CEO of RBoS which led to the biggest financial bail out in the history of the UK – but apparently it was either overlooked or ignored…unimaginable that a defined benefit scheme for Bank employees would NOT include a lien clause….

Dan Pangburn
Reply to  mleskovarsocalrrcom
May 29, 2023 11:56 am

Not just capitalism, FREE MARKET capitalism.

Reply to  Dan Pangburn
May 29, 2023 6:50 pm

agreed! I’ve had enough of the fake crony capitalist stuff. Get rid of regulatory capture and lobbyists owning the legislative process and the system works pretty well.

May 29, 2023 10:48 am

One camera crane with attitude

… and one eco-protester that didn’t count on it.

Reply to  vuk
May 30, 2023 9:43 am

Priceless. ROTFLMAO

May 29, 2023 10:51 am

“”something obviously went very wrong””

They lost a shedload of money?

Dave Fair
Reply to  strativarius
May 29, 2023 1:57 pm

Around here we call it losing a shitload of money.

May 29, 2023 11:20 am

Activists don’t care how much their actions cost others, so long as they get to feel good about themselves.

Dan Pangburn
May 29, 2023 12:03 pm

The irony is that killing fossil fuels will have no significant effect on climate.

Dave Fair
May 29, 2023 1:55 pm

Destroying the Western economies one company at a time. We are accelerating uncontrollably to that brick wall of economic reality. Learn Mandarin, fast.

May 29, 2023 4:13 pm

brand new 1GW HELE coal plant would cost around AUD $2.2 billion according to APO, an Aussie think tank. $387 million / year profit on a $2.2 billion investment would have been a 17.5% return on investment,

There are a few things wrong here.

The cost estimate is based on building somewhere other than Victoria because they are talking about black coal. I am not even sure if the technology exists to build what could be described as a HELE plant using Lignite. And of course there is no allowance for the belligerent workforce that confronts any construction project in Victoria. The union take on these projects usually result in doubling of costs.

Using the 2010 income figure is not realistic. Even by 2015, the adverse impact of intermiittents on the economics of coal generators was clearly evident. Once the first intermittent was let loose on the grid, the cost of coal generation went up and the overall cost of electricity went up but wholesale prices were squeezed so margins for coal plants went down. The government organised theft from consumers to intermittents cushioned their exposure to the falling wholesale price.

It would have been a bad investment to build a new lignite fired plant in a hostile political environment like Victoria. Victoria is even having difficulty getting China to build offshore wind farms.with State incentives.

May 29, 2023 6:55 pm

The cost of renewables they continually lie about-
Flywheels for ElectraNet substation | Siemens Energy Global (siemens-energy.com)
Leftys don’t do irony so the location will be lost on them.

Still it’s hard to hide the bleeding obvious cost with their spaghetti and meatballs grid-
Victorian government changes preferred transmission line route for VNI West project – ABC News

May 29, 2023 7:07 pm

Fire up all fossil fuel power plants, upgrade those that need it, replace those not worth upgrading and start building nuclear plants. Remove all wind and solar from the grid. Start recycling them now, if they aren’t currently recyclable find a way to recycle them.

Reply to  Bob
May 29, 2023 8:57 pm

Just mandate a level playing field. Namely generator tenderers can keep their electrons and use them themselves unless they can reasonably guarantee them 24/7/365 along with FCAS. End of lies about the cost of unreliables.

May 29, 2023 10:37 pm

“potentially irreversibly devastating 1.5 degrees Celsius warming”


Ed Zuiderwijk
Reply to  StuM
May 30, 2023 3:12 am

Indeed. When the compulsory mythical 1.5C makes its glorious entry you know what is coming.

AGW is Not Science
Reply to  Ed Zuiderwijk
May 30, 2023 4:57 am


Business as usual.
No detectable change.
No “acceleration” of present flat-lined “average” temperature.
The Arctic sea ice will still remain.
Glaciers will continue to refuse to “disappear” from Glacier National Park.
Sea level rise will continue at a piddling rate as it has for hundreds of years.
The West Side Highway in Manhattan will continue to be high and dry.
Children will still know what snow is.

May 30, 2023 8:33 am

The current global regime seems intent on destroying the value of not just energy producing assets but also major cities.

If I believed in conspiracy theories, I would say that there should be a major buying opportunity at the bottom, which will be exploited.

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