Belgium may extend lifetimes of nuke plants

Friday, October 2, 2009

BRUSSELS, Oct 2 (Reuters) - Belgium may extend the lifetimes of its three oldest nuclear power stations by ten years to 2025 to guard against energy shortages, newspaper De Standaard reported on Friday.
The plants, two in Doel near the northern city of Antwerp and one in Tihange in southeastern Belgium, are due to close in 2015.

But Energy Minister Paul Magnette will submit a report to the government on Friday that concludes Belgium will face energy supply problems if the plants close on schedule, De Standaard said.

Keeping the plants open would give their operator, dominant Belgian electricity player Electrabel, the Belgian arm of France's GDF Suez, a sizeable profit.

In return, the government would expect to charge GDF Suez some 800 million euros ($1.17 billion), De Standaard said.

Last year, the government sought to charge Electrabel a nuclear tax of 250 million euros, which is now subject to a legal challenge. It plans to charge it 250-300 million euros for next year, De Standaard said.

"There is no deal yet with Electrabel," De Standaard quoted Magnette as saying, but the plan has been discussed with Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy.

Van Rompuy has said a nuclear settlement will be part of the budget he is due to present on Oct. 13

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