Views on BG | October 19, 2001, Friday // 00:00


U.S.-based AES Corp, a major investor in Bulgaria`s energy sector, said on Thursday it planned to start building a $850-million, 670-megawatt lignite coal-fired plant in the Balkan country in May 2002.The new plant is expected to improve Bulgaria`s energy output, create new jobs and strengthen Bulgaria`s role as an energy leader in southeast Europe. AES would invest $225 million of own funds in the AES-3C Maritsa East One joint venture between Bulgaria`s National Electricity Company (NEC) and AES, the venture said in a statement. The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, U.S.-based Overseas Private Investment Corporation and Germany`s Kredit fur Wiederaufbau (KfW) were expected to extend $625 million in credits for the construction, the statement said. KfW was expected to contribute the larger part of those credits but no breakdown was available. Representatives of the three lending institutions were expected to visit Bulgaria by the end of this year. Bulgarian firms would be awarded contracts worth some 200 million levs ($92.6 million) during the plant`s construction, the statement said. The plant will be located at the Maritsa East lignite coal mining complex that generates 30 percent of Bulgaria`s power. It would replace an adjacent old unit under a build-and-operate model and would use only domestic lignite coal. NEC, AES and Maritsa East coal mines signed deals for lignite supplies and power purchases in June. The construction contract was expected to be signed within the next four weeks, the statement said. The project is seen as the first step towards diversifying Bulgaria`s energy sector that would help the country rely more on its own coal and become less dependent on coal imports from its only suppliers Russia and Ukraine. The new plant would help Bulgaria preempt an energy crisis and meet its power export commitments because some 40 percent of the country`s power producing capacity would be in process of decommissioning or refurbishment by 2010, said the statement. Bulgaria gained $150 million last year from electricity exports supplying power to neigbouring Turkey, Greece, Macedonia and Yugoslavia. Power exports were expected to rise to six billion kilowatt hours from 5.6 billion kWh last year.

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