Flash flooding shuts Serbian power plant unit

BELGRADE Thu Jul 31, 2014 10:14am EDT

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BELGRADE (Reuters) - Serbia's second largest power plant, Kostolac, shut down its 181-megawatt unit due to heavy rainfall and floods in the area, the state power utility EPS said in a statement on Thursday.

Serbia's energy sector is under severe strain due to damage inflicted by heavy flooding in May, forcing the Balkan country to turn to imports.

Another 348.5 megawatt block in the 1,000-Megawatt Kostolac plant is offline for maintenance until December 1.

"Flash floods from the surrounding hills are threatening the power plant's work," the utility said in a statement adding that the unit was switched off on Thursday morning.

Last week production was halted in a coal mine supplying the Kostolac plant due to heavy rains.

The Kolubara coal mine, supplying the country's biggest thermal plant complex, Nikola Tesla, halved production after two of its open pits were flooded in May. The authorities said it could take up to a year to restore full production.

Serbia produces 70 percent of its electricity from aging coal-fired power plants.

(Reporting by Ivana Sekularac; Editing by Zoran Radosavljevic and William Hardy)

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