Phasing-out coal: How ENGIE is taking care of its employees

By ENGIE - 05 March 2024 - 16:48

In 2021, ENGIE announced its exit from coal in Chile, with a phase-out starting in 2022 and meant to be completed by 2025. As this transformation has a significant impact on the local economy, the Group, putting its stakeholder at heart,  implemented a Just Transition plan. The goal is to mitigate negative externalities and generate positive ones.


Tocopilla and Mejillones

These two thermal plants are located in northern Chile.


The first one is of crucial importance for the economy of the coastal town of Tocopilla. Along with coal- and gas-fired units producing electricity, the Tocopilla Thermal Complex is also composed of a desalination facility for water production and a port with two cranes.


In 2019, coal-fired units 12 and 13 (0.7 GW in total) were closed, before dismantling in 2022. Units 14 and 15, the last coal-fired units owned by ENGIE, were decommissioned in 2022, marking ENGIE’s exit from coal in Tocopilla.

Phasing out coal in Tocopilla involved managing the departure of 90 employees through a Just Transition plan. An Energy Transition Working Committee, formed by the plant management team, was created in January 2019, to promote employability and internal mobility. One third of the employees trained for new jobs, with a total 14,000 hours of training split into 267 sessions. Classes covered water treatment plant operations, assembly and maintenance of photovoltaic panels, wind turbine maintenance and entrepreneurship. Another third benefited from early retirement and the final third from voluntary resignation with a special plan.


In addition, ENGIE worked with local communities. It established a permanent working group with port employees and fishermen to establish their needs, and promote the development of artisan and sustainable fishing. Each year, the Group also awards subsidies  to humanitarian organizations and micro-enterprises in Tocopilla.


On the environmental side, more than 14,849 tons of materials were recycled from the units. The dismantling was the first of its kind in Chile and had the highest safety standards, with zero accidents. Some of the materials were given to technical employees in other units, while reels, pillars and metal ladders went to the Tocopilla Independent Fishermen’s Union and the Tocopilla Bay Auxiliary Sailor’s Union.


Mejillones, ENGIE’s second thermal complex in Chile, will see two coal-fired units (334 MW in total) decommissioned between now and 2025, as announced in December. Another part of the Complex, the IEM plant, accounting for 377 MW, will be converted to natural gas by July 2026.

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