STA, 19 September 2019 - The Court of Audit has issued a rebuke of consecutive Slovenian governments after determining that strategic planning regarding the exploitation of nuclear energy at the Krško Nuclear Power Plant (NEK) had left the NEK owner in limbo about the future of nuclear energy in the country.
The auditors examined government strategic planning between 2006 and 2016 and determined that strategic documents had been ignored on several occasions and new ones drawn up in disregard of previous commitments or deadlines.
For example, the decision to build a second unit at NEK was made by the government in 2006, but it took years before it ever made it into downstream strategic and operational programmes.
And in 2014 the government started drafting a new national energy programme, but it was not adopted in 2014 or until the extended deadline of 30 June 2016. In fact, it has not been adopted yet, the deadline having been pushed forward several times.
As a result, Gen Energija, the state-owned company which manages the Krško power station, was "left in uncertainty as to whether construction of the second unit at NEK will be possible", the court said in a decision released on Thursday.
The court also criticises Slovenian Sovereign Holding (SSH) for not alerting the government to the potential hazards of not giving Gen Energija clearer guidance.
Gen Energija, meanwhile, has been criticised for commissioning, between 2007 and 2016, as many as 122 studies concerning the second unit, half of which were not subject to public calls for bids.
This constitutes violation of public procurement rules and risks curtailing competition between bidders, the auditors said.
Despite the shortcomings, the Court of Audit stopped short of issuing an adverse opinion.
Instead, it issued a set of recommendations on how Gen Energija should improve its operations while requesting corrective measures from the government, Infrastructure Ministry, SSH and Gen Energija.
The Infrastructure Ministry sees the report as a call to all parties to act in a coordinated and prudent manner in planning the long-term use of nuclear energy.
It stressed that the country's energy concept was already in the making and should be debated by the government in the second half of 2020.
But the ministry also noted the report covered 2006-2016, whereas the new infrastructure minister had to first deal with delays in drafting several strategic documents, including the energy concept but also the National Energy and Climate Plan, when taking the office over a year ago.
Gen Energija interpreted the report as a call for a comprehensive and long-term planning of energy production. Changes are already under way, it added.
"Gen Energija has started introducing changes in the areas where the need arose for systematic improvements already during the audit, and we will report to the Court of Audit on the implementation of the remedy measures," the company said on its web site.