By Geraldine Amiel
PARIS--France's oldest nuclear plant Fessenheim, in the east of the country bordering Germany, won't be dismantled until 2018 at the earliest due to the plant's lengthy closing procedures, the French government mediator for the shut down of Fessenheim Francis Rol-Tanguy said in an interview with French daily Les Dernieres Nouvelles d'Alsace.
The closing of Fessenheim is seen as a litmus test for French President Francois Hollande's ability to reform the country's strategy on energy which heavily relies on its nuclear capacities. By law only the operator of a power plant or France's nuclear regulator can decide to shut down a reactor.
Mr. Hollande has repeatedly pledged to get Fessenheim closed by 2016 as the government seeks to lower the share of the atom in France's energy mix to 50% by 2025 from currently around 75% to boost the use of renewable energy sources.
French state-controlled power giant Electricite de France SA (EDF.FR) has shown reluctance to shut down Fessenheim as the regulator allowed the lifespan of both its two 900 megawatts reactors to be extended by another 10 years.
Mr. Rol-Tanguy, who has been appointed by the government to talk with local employees' representatives and prepare the shutting down of the plant, noted that a government-led bill to initiate France's so-called "energy transition" would include a limit on volumes of nuclear-produced power in France. As EDF is currently building a new-generation nuclear reactor in Normandy--which should start producing in 2016--this would indirectly mean EDF needs to shut other nuclear capacities, like Fessenheim.
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