KRYNICA, Poland, Sept 5 (Reuters) - Poland's top three utilities and copper miner KGHM will share the estimated 30- to 50 billion zlotys ($9-15 billion) cost of building the country's first nuclear power station under a deal signed on Wednesday.
Poland wants to develop nuclear power to reduce its dependence on highly polluting coal, but top utility PGE , which is managing the project, cannot fund the project alone.
The four firms - which include Tauron and Enea - are state-controlled. The cost of the project and delay until its first power sales make it difficult to attract private companies.
"Today we have a preliminary deal. By the end of December or at the beginning of 2013 we expect some concrete agreement and concrete actions," said Mikolaj Budzanowski, head of the Treasury Ministry, which oversees state assets.
European Union member Poland aims to launch a 3 gigawatt nuclear plant by 2023 and double that capacity by 2030.
"According to our strategy to diversify fuels in energy production, Tauron plans to have a few hundred megawatts of nuclear energy in its production portfolio by around 2025," Tauron Chief Executive Dariusz Lubera said in a joint statement.
"Energy production is a growing sector. According to KGHM's growth strategy, it is a vital element of the diversification of our revenue," KGHM CEO Herbert Wirth said.
Poland does not want to switch from coal to gas-fired power stations as that would only heighten its energy dependence on Russia, a country with which it has tense relations.
U.S.-Japanese group GE Hitachi , France's Areva and Westinghouse, a U.S. unit of Japan's Toshiba, have all signaled interest in supplying technology for the project, which has already faced a number of delays.
At the end of June, PGE delayed a tender to select the engineering company for the project, saying it had to work out financing. It is not clear when the tender, previously scheduled for the second quarter of 2012, will move forward. ($1 = 3.3303 Polish zlotys)