US and Italian utilities have applied to build new power stations in Italy in anticipation of opening up the energy markets to competition.

Italy needs additional generating capacity to help bring down tariffs, which are already among the highest in Europe, as well as to cope with the increasing demand.

Reports say US applicants to build new power stations include Foster Wheeler, Southern Energy and Enron. Italian applicants include Italcementi. The requests included applications totalling 32,900MW for connections to the grid and 31,400MW for preliminary studies into the feasibility of connections. There were few applications to develop hydro power stations but there was a proposal to build a 40MW hydroelectric plant at Lasa in the northern Bolzano province, with a proposed start up by 2003.