Atomic minister Alexander Rumyantsev has given his support to the government’s plans for energy reform. The main aims are to commercialise the generation and sale of electricity but maintain state control of distribution and transmission. Rumyantsev welcomed the possibility of improving the grid system in a way which would make it possible to export electricity over both regional and state borders. He cited Kola as an example – currently one of the plant's four 440MWe units is always in reserve because there is no way to send the power outside the region. Developing the grid would make it possible to export power to Finland.
Rumyantsev said an increase in electricity tariffs was inevitable and over the next few years rates would nearly double. “It would be practically impossible to reconstruct the energy sector without raising rates,” he said.
As for developing nuclear power, he said the current government envisaged starting up one new unit each year. These will be built both at existing plants and new ones, in five cities. Nuclear stations are planned for the far east and the Arkhangelsk region. Russia will build six new units by 2010, at the Novovoronezh, Kursk, Kalinin, Rostov, Balakovo and Beloyarsk nuclear power stations, he said.
The Nuclear Society of Russia (NSR) has warned against abolishing Minatom. In an official statement addressed to Russian leaders the NSR, which represents Russian scientists, specialists, teachers and students involved in the use of nuclear energy, emphasised that the “efficient and safe operation” of the country’s nuclear industry depends on Minatom and its existing infrastructure.