The EBRD said that commercial banks would provide up to€215m in loans for the Maritza East III Power Company AD, a joint venture between the state electricity company and Entergy.

The total project cost is €648m and is part of a move to retire ageing nuclear reactors and help Bulgaria meet European Union emission standards, the EBRD said.

“The project will be the first private sector financing and first major foreign investment in the power sector in Bulgaria (together with Maritza East I) and will have good demonstration and confidence-building impact on the country and the region,” the development bank for eastern Europe said on its website.

The bank said the project would be the first in the region where a long-term power purchase agreement anticipates the expected liberalisation of the power market in accordance with the EU electricity directive.

The EBRD will decide on the project on July 23.