Italy to Begin Building Nuclear Plant Within 5 Years

Thursday, May 22, 2008

May 22 (Bloomberg) -- Italy will start building a nuclear power plant by the end of Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's five-year term, more than two decades after abandoning the fuel source, Industry Minister Claudio Scajola said.

``Only nuclear plants allow the production of clean energy, safely, at low cost, on a large scale, and without damaging the environment,'' Scajola said during the annual assembly of employers' group Confindustria in Rome. ``By the end of this legislature we will take the first step in construction of a new generation of nuclear plants.''

Italy will also streamline the process for approving the construction of energy infrastructure, including natural-gas import plants, Scajola said. The new government will introduce ``targeted'' tax cuts on fuels used to transport the country's ``principle goods and services,'' he said.

Italians voted by referendum to end nuclear power production in 1987 following the Chernobyl disaster in Ukraine. More recently, companies and the government have encountered opposition from local groups that block and delay projects like LNG plants and power-generation projects.

The new government, which took office last week, will promote renewable energy, ``clean'' coal and nuclear power in order to diversify fuel sources and encourage geographic diversification, Scajola said. Rules governing the distribution of fuels will also be changed to increase competition and reduce costs, he said.

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