Bulgarian state power company NETC has invited two consortia to submit final bids for the development of the Belene nuclear plant.

Russia’s Atomstroyexport with Framatome ANP and Siemens is competing with Czech firm Skoda Praha backed by Citibank, Unicredito and the Czech Komercni Banka to develop two 1 GW reactors in the Danube town of Belene and have until mid-December to submit binding bids.

The winning bidder is expected to be announced at the end of February according to government sources. The new plant is expected to cost around €2.5 billion but that could rise to some €3.5 billion once financing costs are included.

The government plans to set up a new company to own and run the plant once built, which will be majority state-owned. The first reactor is expected to begin commercial operations in 2011 with the second a year or two later.