Candidate for Czech industry minister says decision on Temelin expansion should be delayed.

By bne IntelliNews January 8, 2014

Jan Mladek, the candidate for next Czech industry minister, said the two new reactors at Temelin nuclear power plant will eventually be built but their construction should be delayed, CTK news agency reported. Mladek was cited as saying that the worst scenario would be if the new units are not built and the country ends up facing legal battles so he is in favour of postponing the construction.

Temelin’s operator CEZ, which is majority owned by the state, is in the process of selecting a supplier for the reactors. US Westinghouse and a Czech-Russian consortium comprising Skoda JS, Atomstroyexport and Gidropress are bidding for the contract valued at up to EUR 11bn. CEZ chief executive Daniel Benes said earlier in January that the company may sign a contract with the tender winner in the first quarter of 2015.

CEZ, which initially planned to select the winner by the end of 2013, already postponed the awarding of the contract till end-2014 or 2015 waiting for the government to approve a new energy strategy. Benes confirmed that CEZ will not sign a contract unless it secures a guaranteed price for the electricity to be generated by Temelin’s two new reactors. The company seeks the introduction of the British model under which the state steps in with payments if the power prices slip below the guaranteed level but CEZ will have to pay the state if prices are higher. 

Czechs will also have to look at a recently launched EU investigation into a planned British nuclear state aid for a GBP 16bn nuclear power plant to be built by EDF. The UK is the first European member state to request approval for government support for nuclear power. The Commission's decision in the matter will determine how other states regulate nuclear support in future.

In addition, Temelin's expansion project is complicated by appeals by France's Areva, which was excluded from the bidding. In October 2013 the Regional Court in Brno issued a preliminary injunction preventing CEZ from signing a contract with the tender winner.

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