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20 Aug, 2009 12:57

Buryatia steps up to power plate as Chubais looks to market

The Republic of Buryatia will boost the capacities of one of its power plants to make up for energy losses caused by the accident at the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro-power plant.

The Republic's President said on Thursday the plant is currently operating at half of its maximum capacity, and that two power plants in Ulan-Ude will get upgrades.

Monday's disaster at the plant in Siberia will cost its owner – Rushydro – more than a billion dollars in repairs.

Experts estimate that companies dependent on electricity from the plant could lose up to $400 million dollars.

But Rushydro officials say they are not planning to increase energy tariffs to compensate for what it has spent on the restoration of the plant.

Earlier this week Energy Minister Sergei Shmatko warned that energy tariffs in Siberia will increase by up to 7%.

A former head of Russia's power monopoly, and current head of Rusnano, Anatoly Chubais blamed the accident on the lack of a competitive free market.

“Following the hydro power plant accident, Siberia lost 6400 megawatts. If we want to build new capacity, we need money – but where will we get it from? 30 billion dollars for electricity investment programme is an impossible sum for the federal budget and that means we need private investment, and this can only happen if the market and free pricing exist.”