Luzhkov Unveils New Power Station

MTLuzhkov gazing at a network of pipes on Thursday at the newly opened power station in the Ochakovo district.
The state-controlled Federal Grid Company opened a modernized transmission station Friday in western Moscow -- a complex the company claimed was the biggest of its kind in Europe.

Market players question the necessity of new generation and transmission stations as electricity consumption has been forecast to contract next year.

The Federal Grid Company, or FSK, has spent 14.8 billion rubles ($530 million) on the 500-kilowatt transmission station, located in Ochakovo district, which was formally opened by Mayor Yury Luzhkov and FSK chairman Andrei Rappoport on Friday.

"The capital will never face power outages or catastrophes any more," Luzhkov promised station workers and journalists.

"However, the current situation has forced all of us to be more economical," Luzhkov said, adding that in 2008 Moscow's electricity consumption had fallen 5.7 percent year on year "thanks to energy-saving measures."

"We are saving more fuel and gas," he said.

The fall in energy usage may have been influenced by other factors, however. Power consumption has plummeted all around the country, with electricity usage in the Central Federal District last month falling 8.9 percent year on year.

The power generators said their ambitious construction plans had to be delayed because even worse growth figures were predicted for next year.

Luzhkov said a further drop in power consumption could lead to a revision of plans for the city's power grids.

"We will not build electricity facilities, heating and water pipes if there's not enough demand," Luzhkov said. "We will closely monitor consumption forecasts."