* Czechs cite right to pick own energy mix
* CEZ plans at least two more reactors
* Nuclear key to energy security
By Jana Mlcochova
PRAGUE, Oct 19 The Czech Republic will look to
the European Union to defend its nuclear expansion plans and
fend off growing opposition from neighbouring Germany and
Austria, a top official at Czech utility CEZ CEZPsp.PR said on
Alan Svoboda, sales chief at the majority state-owned
utility seeking to build more reactors, said the Czech Republic
must counter pressure from other European Union member states if
it wants independence in structuring its energy industries.
"We have to defend that with reference to the Lisbon Treaty
which says that each country has the right to pick its own
energy mix and at the same time it does not have the right to
interfere and tell other countries how they should be thinking
about their energy mix," Svoboda told an energy conference.
CEZ plans to build two additional units at its Temelin plant
and then potentially up to three other units in Slovakia and at
its Dukovany plant.
Toshiba Corp unit Westinghouse, an alliance of
Russia's Atomstroyexport and Czech company Skoda JS, and
France's Areva , are bidding to build the units in the
biggest-ever Czech procurement deal.
A government policy paper has also proposed to build a
string of new atomic plants in the central European country,
including boosting reliance on nuclear to 80 percent of all
energy needs by 2060.
The nuclear push has stirred opposition in Austria -- whose
border lies some 50 km (30 miles) from CEZ's Temelin nuclear
plant -- as well as in Germany which announced a retreat from
nuclear following Japan's Fukushima disaster in March.
Opponents cite Fukushima as reasons why nuclear power is
unsafe while Czechs see nuclear as a key plank in ensuring
future energy security for the former Soviet block nation that
gets most of its gas supplies from Russia.
"We must defend that politically amid the counter-pressure
of our neighbours, Germany, Austria and possibly other member
states," Svoboda said.
Germany's decision to exit nuclear power has also boosted
long-term power prices, something Svoboda predicted would
continue despite the benchmark hitting seven-month lows this
An uncertain economic outlook could further depress baseload
electricity for 2012 delivery but prices are not likely to fall
below pre-Fukushima levels, he said.
"We can see these trends but of course it can quickly turn
around, the fears of a recession can subside, a cold winter can
come and the market sentiment can change," Svoboda said.
"Prices will not quickly return to the pre-Fukushima levels.
Those 8,000 MW (lost due to Germany shutting down reactors in
April) in our region are simply gone. There was a structural
jump which lasts."
(Editing by Michael Kahn and Keiron Henderson)