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Clinton backs Westinghouse bid to build Czech reactors

| Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2012, 10:22 a.m.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged the Czech government to diversify its energy sources by picking Westinghouse Electric Co. as a supplier for two new reactors at CEZ AS's Temelin nuclear plant.

“We are encouraging the Czech Republic to diversify” its energy sources and suppliers in a way that is environmentally sound and safe, Clinton said in Prague on Monday. Earlier, she met with Czech Foreign Minister Karel Schwarzenberg. The United States hopes “that Westinghouse will receive the utmost consideration.” The secretary, traveling in Europe to discuss NATO funding commitments, urged Czechs to reduce their dependence on Russian energy. She touted Westinghouse technology as having the highest safety standards.

CEZ, the Czech state-controlled power utility, plans to pick the supplier of the Temelin reactors by the middle of next year. Westinghouse, based in Cranberry, is competing for the $10 billion project against a Russian-Czech group led by Atomstroyexport, a unit of Russia's state-run Rosatom Corp.

Accepting Westinghouse's bid would create jobs and spur investment opportunities in both countries, Clinton said.

Paris-based Areva SA, the world's largest supplier of nuclear fuel, was disqualified from bidding in October and has appealed to the Czech anti-monopoly office.

The Czechs buy 60 percent of their oil, 70 percent of their natural gas and all of their nuclear reactor fuel from Russia. All of the country's 6 nuclear reactors are of Soviet design.

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