Temelin tender decision faces delay

19 June 2013

Political turmoil could impact the tender process for the planned construction of two new reactors at the Czech Republic's Temelin plant. The winning bid was due to be decided in September.

Czech utility CEZ, which is 70% state owned, launched the tender process for the new Temelin units in August 2009. In November 2011 it invited three candidates to submit bids. CEZ expected to select the reactor supplier in September and sign the construction contract by the end of 2013. The units are scheduled to begin operating in 2023 and 2024.

The contenders

Bids to build the new Temelin units were submitted by three candidates - Areva; a consortium between Škoda JS, AtomStroyExport and OKB Gidropress; and Westinghouse. All three contenders submitted documentation supporting their respective bids in late June 2012.

In October, CEZ told Areva that its bid had been disqualified. Areva subsequently lodged a petition with the Czech anti-monopoly office.

However, the selection of the winning bid could be postponed following the resignation on 17 June of Czech prime minister Petr Nečas following a bribery and spying scandal which led to the arrest of his chief-of-staff. President Milos Zeman has asked Nečas and his cabinet to remain in place until a new government is formed but no "strategic" decisions are to be made during this period.

Nečas, who is chairman of the Civic Democratic Party, said that he was resigning because of "complications" in his personal life. He pledged to do all he could "so that a new government, headed by a prime minister nominated by the Civic Democratic Party, can continue to pursue the key policies of my government until the regular election time in May next year."

CEZ spokesman Ladislav Kriz told the Wall Street Journal, "The timeline for now isn't changing. But on the other hand, it's difficult to imagine undertaking a final decision of the tender without the clear position of the majority owner, without a clearly-defined government with a clear-cut mandate and an obvious point of view on state energy policy."

CEZ is seeking an agreement with the government to guarantee future electricity prices. The company's chief financial officer Martin Novak told Reuters that discussions with the industry ministry on a so-called "contract for difference" would continue. Such an agreement was crucial, he said, for CEZ to proceed with the project at this time.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News