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Church Set To Start Private Power Station

church starts power plant agreementThe Church has signed preliminary agreements to start the island's first private power station, said Archbishop Chrysostomos II on Orthodox Easter Sunday.

The station will start using mazut fuel and then switch to natural gas, with the Church offering its land and foreign companies offering technology and know-how, according to the Archbishop.

Due to the economic recession, the Church's revenues have dropped by 60 percent, he said, and the planned electricity plant will bring new income and create new jobs.

There is a crisis in the energy market in Cyprus due to the deadly explosion last July, which critically damaged the island's largest power station, Vassiliko. Electricity prices have increased by at least one third as the Electricity Authority of Cyprus (EAC) added a 6.95 percent charge to cover the costs of hiring generators to take over some of the missing power. But in an overall economic crisis, consumers have had difficulty paying their bills, which frequently reach hundreds of euros.

As one of the island's largest landowners, the Church is possibly the most likely candidate to compete against the EAC, which has been criticised for failing to adapt to changing technologies and was left financially and technically vulnerable by the damage to Vassiliko. When the EAC's board of directors presented the authority's 1.8 billion-euro 2012 budget to Parliament - with a 66 million-euro surplus - DIKO MP Nikolas Papadopoulos said that the EAC should make radical changes if it wants to be competitive in the near future.

He backed the Cyprus Energy Regulatory Authority's (CERA) call to rationalise and reorganise the company's structure to make it more efficient. The EAC's monopoly is the reason that consumers pay the highest electricity rates in the EU, and this was true before the explosion at Mari naval base which critically damaged the Vasiliko power plant, he said.

The EAC has also projected it will cut its staff costs by 10 percent, and indeed, once serious competition comes onto the market, it will have to become a leaner and more adaptable organisation if it wants to avoid the fate of other semi-government organisations like Eurocypria and the struggling Cyprus Airways.

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