ESSEN, Germany, Feb 23 (Reuters) - Coal miner and power generator LEAG, owned by Czech energy firm EPH, plans to build gas-fired power stations at four locations in Germany as part of a government strategy to add more such plants, its CEO told Reuters in an interview.

"We will definitely be involved in this," said Thorsten Kramer. "We have four power plant sites. We are applying for all of them," he said, referring to Berlin's plans to tender capacity in an auction system that is yet to be defined.

Planning for the sites, which would have a combined capacity of at least 3 gigawatts (GW), has been under way for several years, Kramer added.

Earlier this month, the German government agreed to a strategy involving $17 billion in subsidies for gas power plant operators that can switch to hydrogen, which Berlin sees as a crucial future energy source in the transition away from polluting fossil fuels.

LEAG, Germany's second-largest electricity producer, is optimistic it will get the green light by Easter for 1.75 billion euros ($1.89 billion) in compensation Berlin intends to pay the firm for shutting down its lignite power plants by 2038, Kramer said.

Brussels would still need to approve the aid, which follows a similar paycheck for LEAG's larger peer RWE last year.

LEAG's parent EPH, controlled by Czech billionaire Daniel Kretinsky, is currently in discussions with Thyssenkrupp to possibly buy half of the German group's steel unit, a deal that relies on LEAG's shift towards renewables.

Under an ongoing transformation plan, LEAG plans to build 7 GW of renewables capacity by 2030, from less than 100 megawatt currently.

($1 = 0.9243 euros) (Reporting by Tom Kaeckenhoff Writing by Rachel More and Christoph Steitz Editing by Mark Potter)