Italy to reconsider nuclear

25 January 2005

Italian Prime Minister, Silvio Berlusconi, has said that his government would soon examine all its energy options – including a return to nuclear power. Italy’s four nuclear power plants were shutdown following a post-Chernobyl referendum.

Berlusconi was speaking at the inauguration of a new transmission line intended to safeguard Italy from blackouts like the one of 28 September 2003, when a treefall in Switzerland led to almost total power failure across Italy.

Italy imports 17% of its electricity, mainly from France, and Berlusconi said that Italian industry was penalised by having to pay 20-30% more for its power because of “poor choices made in the past.” He also said that despite Italy’s non-nuclear status, the country still shared the risk of an accident outside its borders.

The speech made headlines across Italy and prompted Corriere della Sera, the country’s best-selling daily newspaper, to conduct on online poll into public attitudes. Some 70% of respondents favoured a return to nuclear generation.

Hinting that the ‘nuclear option’ would be reexamined if he is reelected next year, Berlusconi said: “One legislature is too short to impose a new energy plan and find answers to the questions which weigh on our system like whether or not to use nuclear power.”

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