RIGA - Latvian consumers have the lowest average electricity and natural gas bills compared with both their Baltic neighbors and other EU member states.
The public services regulator in Latvia reported that the average monthly electricity bill is 6.68 euros (including VAT), while in Estonia it is 7.03 euros and in Lithuania 8.4 euros.
At the same time, Latvia has the cheapest electricity in the European Union's 15 older member states, the regulator stressed.
With regard to natural gas, the average bill for Latvians is also among the very lowest in the EU at 2.6 euros a month. Lithuanians pay the most for gas in the Baltics, or 3.16 euros per month, while the average Estonian gas bill is 3 euros a month (including VAT).
What's more, gas bills for Latvian consumers using natural gas for winter heating pay an average 24.8 euros a month, compared with 29.3 euros in Estonia and 31.7 euros in Lithuania.
The public regulator said that it expected gas and electricity consumption to continue growing in Latvia and the Baltics, and as a result the region will need to boost electricity production capacities.
The regulator added that in order to lessen the dependence of Russian gas supplies, electricity plants should be built to run on alternative sources, while constructing important electricity links to Finland and Poland may not be cost-effective in the long-run.
Arnis Kalnins, an economics expert, wrote in an article in the Latvijas Vestnesis official state newspaper last week that Latvia should build more power plants to cover the expected energy deficit. He suggested a Pan-Baltic project for building a new nuclear station, possibly near Ignalina in Lithuania.