Life Extension of Bulgaria's Kozloduy NPP Units 5, 6 Is Key Priority - Minister
Vasil Shtonov, Bulgaria's caretaker Minister of Economy and Energy, has cited the life extension of units 5, 6 of the Kozloduy nuclear power plant as one of the key priorities on his agenda.
Speaking Thursday at a sitting of the National Council for Tripartite Cooperation, he claimed that the most important task for Bulgaria's energy sector was the life extension of these N-plant units.
Shtonov pointed out that the license of unit 5 of the Kozloduy NPP expired in end-2017 and that of unit 6 in end-2019.
He explained that a two-stage plan had been made for the purpose, adding that the first stage involved the evaluation of the condition of the corpuses.
Shtonov underscored that it was essential to secure an impartial and precise evaluation of the N-plant unit corpuses as it would mean that a smaller number of elements would need replacement.
He warned that there was a high risk of corruption as there was only one supplier of this type of equipment.
Shtonov added that the second stage of activities would involve the replacement of pipes and taps and other technical details.
"We are being given assurances that the license will be extended on time. What is now being discussed is a period of 20 years, which will be 10+10 years under Bulgarian legislation, as a re-licensing will be necessary every 10 years," he said, as cited by the BGNES news agency.
Bulgaria's caretaker Energy Minister commented that the problem of excessive production capacity was expected to last at least by 2020 as electricity demand was falling due to the low energy efficiency.
He explained that inconsistent decision making would cause the debt of the National Electric Company (NEK) to reach BGN 4 B in a year, adding that the problem kept snowballing over the past year and required urgent measures.
Shtonov pointed out that Bulgaria's energy market would be fully liberalized by 2015, adding that it did not mean that the public supplier or the long-term contracts would automatically disappear, but simply that the management of the production cycle would change and the planning would be different.
He drew attention to the need to establish a fund to assist households that were unable to pay energy bills, adding that the caretaker government had never intended to introduce a power price hike without ensuring protection for low-income households.
Shtonov informed that a hearing on the Belene NPP at the International Court of Arbitration in Paris was forthcoming and the decision on it was expected in May or June 2015 at the earliest.
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