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12 Jun, 2008 17:43

Head of Russia's disbanding electricity monopoly still full of plans

Just days before electricity monopoly UES ceases to exist its head, Anatoly Chubais, has taken part in two ceremonies launching the construction of new power plants in Western Siberia.

Chubais proclaimed the success of the power sector reforms, which are meant to boost Russia's generating capacity.
“These new projects are crucial for the energy security of the entire region, from Tyumen to the Yamal territory,” he also said.
Finnish power giant Fortum is paying for the construction of one of the plants. The other, OGK-1, is still waiting for a suitor.
Chubais admits the fate of OGK-1 is the main unresolved issue of the current reforms.
“OGK-1 is a gigantic project with a price tag of over $US 5 billion, which is the reason why it's not easy to find an investor under current market conditions. But we are not prepared to sell it cheap. Not even now,” said Chubais.
Once UES de-lists its shares on July 1, it will transfer all its distribution assets into the Federal Grid Company, the biggest of its kind in the world. Analysts believe that will fill a gap on the market.

Several European companies, including Italy's Enel and Germany's E.ON, have already invested billions of dollars in Russia's power sector, but timely price liberalisation will determine how much they actually earn from their investment.