Budget dispute could delay Polish nuclear program: report

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A governmental dispute over the costs of Poland's nuclear power program could delay the country's first nuclear plant, according to a report Monday.

The daily Rzeczpospolita said Poland's finance minister, Jacek Rostowski, has criticized the high cost of the economy ministry's estimated Zloty 840 million ($289 million) nuclear program.

Rostowski wants to cut all costs where possible to reduce Poland's budget deficit. "Minister Rostowski questions the costs and does not view the matter favorably," a source from the economy ministry told the daily.

Poland's cabinet is due Tuesday to discuss a nuclear power legal package, which amends the nuclear power law and establishes legislation regulating the investment.

The package, which must be approved by the government and parliament, is key to Poland being able to start the process to select the nuclear technology. It was supposed to have been accepted before the end of 2010.

Any further delay could make it difficult for Polish power utility PGE to achieve the government's aim to have the first nuclear power plant online in 2020.

To meet that deadline PGE wants to launch the tender for the third generation technology in July 2011 -- which means the Polish parliament needs to pass the package by the end of the second quarter of 2011.

Poland produces close to 95% of its power from coal or lignite, but the government plans to meet 15% of its energy needs from nuclear power by 2030.

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