July 2, 2012 / 6:36 AM / 5 years ago

Poland's PGE sees start of Opole's first unit in 2017

WARSAW, July 2 (Reuters) - Poland's top utility PGE expects operations to start at the first of its two planned coal-fired 900-megawatt blocks in Opole in 2017, the group's chief operating officer was quoted as saying on Monday.

PGE had to delay the 11.6 billion zloty ($3.4 billion) investment, the largest in Poland's power sector to date, after a Polish court blocked an environment clearance for construction.

"The contract for construction of the blocks is signed, we are working on the project. We are trying to obtain a legally binding environment decision. After we get it, construction will start off," Pawel Skowronski told business portal wnp.pl.

"This should happen at the end of 2012 or in the first months of 2013. In 2017 we should launch the first block and in 2018 the second. This is difficult, but possible."

Skowronski added PGE would run the investment even if it does not find a partner for the project. In its strategy, the group said it planned to sell around 50 percent in the Opole project.

"The blocks in Elektrownia Opole will be built irrespective of whether we will find a partner or not. Finding one would make it easier for us to finance other investments."

PGE had picked a consortium of Polish companies - Rafako , Polimex Mostostal and Mostostal Warszawa - for the project.

$1 = 3.4558 Polish zlotys Reporting by Maciej Onoszko; Editing by Mark Potter

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