On 9 June 2008, Alpiq's project company Kernkraftwerk Niederamt AG submitted to the Swiss Federal Office of Energy a general licence application for a new nuclear power plant in Niederamt, Solothurn. Some six months later, Axpo and BKW submitted their own general licence applications for new nuclear power plants in Beznau and Mühleberg respectively. Today the Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate (ENSI) published its assessment of the applications. Alpiq welcomes the findings, since they attest to the very high quality of the Alpiq application. The report confirms that Alpiq conducted a comprehensive analysis of the site characteristics and furnished proof of the location's suitability for a new nuclear power plant. The requirements and recommendations in the report are being consistently addressed, and the results will be incorporated in the next stages of the licence procedure. For Alpiq, this assessment represents a milestone on the road to a new nuclear power station in Niederamt, Solothurn. All documentation relating to the general licence applications is published on the ENSI website along with the report.
400 to 500 new jobs in Niederamt
The ENSI report has strengthened Alpiq's resolve to drive the Niederamt nuclear power station project (KKN) forward. Herbert Niklaus, who is in charge of the KKN project at Alpiq, also views the report as a positive result of Alpiq's long-standing presence in Niederamt: "In Niederamt the residents, authorities, energy suppliers and power station operators have been collaborating successfully for many years. This will certainly benefit us in the future."
According to Niklaus, the quid pro quo is that, in return for providing the site for a new nuclear power station, the Niederamt region will directly benefit from between 400 and 500 new jobs as well as sizeable tax revenues.
In summer the canton of Solothurn published the proposed reference plan modifications for public consultation. The objections lodged against the plan are currently being examined by the authorities, and the Executive Council of Solothurn will decide on modifications to the plan within the foreseeable future. The eligible municipalities and regional planning associations in Niederamt are entitled to appeal against this decision. Such appeals are likely to be dealt with by the Cantonal Council (the cantonal parliament) in the course of 2011.
Cantons across the country are entitled to state their position on the three submitted general licence applications. The related documents will be disclosed for public consultation in the summer of 2011. In the best case, the general licence could be granted by the Federal Council in mid-2012 and voted on by parliament in 2012/2013. Nevertheless, the parliamentary decision is subject to an optional referendum: in other words, the Swiss people have the last word on the nuclear power station. The Swiss people will not vote earlier than 2013.