By Giuseppe Fonte
ROME (Reuters) -Italy's government is finalising new measures worth almost 6 billion euros ($6.81 billion) to help consumers and firms hit by the rise in energy bills, a draft decree seen by Reuters showed.
The package, due to be approved by the cabinet on Friday, comes on top of some 10 billion euros already budgeted since July last year to try to soften the cost of surging oil and gas prices.
Some 3 billion euros will go to cut a range of so-called "system-cost" levies, the draft showed. These levies, which help finance things from solar power subsidies to nuclear decommissioning, typically account for more than 20% of Italian retail energy bills.
Employers association Confindustria has estimated that energy bills will cost industry some 37 billion euros this year compared with 20 billion euros in 2021.
Rome also plans to introduce simplification measures to speed up the construction of renewable power plants, the draft showed.
It also said the government is studying measures to have the country's gas storage system filled to at least 90% of capacity starting in the storage year 2022-2023, the draft showed.
Storage currently stands at around 40% of capacity.
Italy has 20 billion cubic metres of storage capacity, of which 4.5 bcm are strategic reserves overseen by the government which can only be used in emergency situations.
Gas storage is typically filled during the summer season before being used in the winter.
The decree is not only devoted to capping energy costs, and will involve a total of almost 8 billion euros of extra spending and tax breaks, a government source told Reuters.
Industry Minister Giancarlo Giorgetti has called for around 1 billion euros of public funds to promote the purchase of less polluting vehicles.
Additional funds will be allocated between 2022 and 2030 to support research and development in microprocessor technology, the draft said, without specifying how much.
Intel (NASDAQ:) and the Italian government are in talks over investments expected to be worth around 8 billion euros to build an advanced semiconductor packaging plant.
($1 = 0.8816 euros)
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