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Development minister makes call for state's re-entry in energy sector

National Development Minister Tamás Fellegi made a call for the state's re-entry into the energy sector at a talk with journalists on Thursday.

State ownership ought to be brought back to the energy sector, because, with the exception of the UK, Hungary is the only country in the European Union where the only way the state can affect energy markets is as a regulator, Fellegi said.

“The instrument of regulation is not enough, because it does not give us enough room for manoeuvre,” Fellegi said, without revealing any details about the state's re-entry in the sector.

I would like to “bring back” the state's strategic role to the energy sector, to the renewable energy segment too, Fellegi said.

The system of mandatory energy purchases must be restructured because we cannot allow those who have already recouped their investment to “suck out” subsidies from the system, he said. A debate on the restructuring concerned the “speed” at which the system should be changed, he added, referring to a difference of views between János Lázár, who heads the parliamentary group of governing Fidesz, and state secretary for energy affairs János Bencsik.

An amendment submitted by Lázár would have cut the guaranteed purchase price for all energy generated by combined cycle power plants by 25% from 2011 and by 35% from 2012. The proposal was opposed by Bencsik and a deal was later worked out to eliminate subsidies for electricity from the plants but not heat.

“We will create a new subsidy system that supports the implementation of energy policy and is advantageous for end-users too,” Fellegi said.

Speaking about a planned expansion of the Paks Nuclear Power Plant, Fellegi said he hoped a tender for the project could be called in November and a decision taken next year. There are five potential bidders on paper, from Russia, China, Japan and Korea as well as France's Areva, that could also finance the project, he said. Areva is very active in the field, but there is a strong interest from the Finns, the Koreans, the Chinese and now the Japanese, he added.