Italy Looks for Relief with First New Energy Plan in 25 Years
By Christopher Coats
Prime Minister Mario Monti is taking aim at Italy’s beleaguered energy situation with a pledge to cut red tape and the first national energy plan in over two decades.
Saddled with an unsustainable energy bill and an increasingly frustrating and slow-moving permit process, Italy laid out a new, streamlined approach to energy production beginning with a 150 percent boost in oil production by 2020. The government’s new plan includes a simplified permit process and reduction of local authority over oil and gas projects, all intended to lop off about $18 billion from the country’s $78.8 billion current annual energy bill.
More than cost-saving measure in a time of economic crisis, the plan is meant to expand the Italy’s increasingly limited energy options following years of reduced domestic production and the failure to the revive viable alternatives, including nuclear. Banned in Italy since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986, nuclear power was set for a return via a Silvio Berlusconi-led popular referendum, but was shelved last Spring after Japan’s Fukushima calamity reminded the public of why they had banned it in the first place.
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