Poland drags feet on power bridge project

  • 2007-05-16
  • By TBT staff
VILNIUS - Confidence in Lithuania's nuclear power plant project sunk further last week after reports surfaced that a crucial analysis of the power link connecting the Baltic state with Poland set for April missed its deadline due to foot-dragging on Poland's part.

Latvian energy officials also announced their intention to go ahead with alternative energy-generation projects due to the country's soaring demand for kilowatts, despite the country's shareholder status in the new nuclear power plant roughly scheduled to be ready for launch in 2015.
Jonas Kazlauskas, deputy director of Lithuania's energy agency, told the Baltic News Service that the Polish side has been "silent."

"They are not doing any homework. I believe they are waiting for the law on a new nuclear power plant to be passed. They relate the power line project with the nuclear power plant project," he said.
"If Poland does not participate in the nuclear power plant construction, they say they do not need the power line either," Kazlauskas stressed.
He said a working group comprised of Lietuvos Energija (Lithuanian Energy) and Polskie Sieci Elektroenergetyczne, Poland's state-owned grid operator, was supposed to have prepared a study and suggest avenues for further development of a link that would connect the two countries' grids.

He said the Lithuanian side sent its information to the Poles but have yet to receive a reply.
Vladas Paskevicius, who heads the working group for Lithuania, said the Poles have twice postponed group meetings. To be sure, the study is extremely technical and entails many calculations, as well as financial and legal issues.
"The study must define the lines that must be built and the locations of such lines, the investment amount they will require, the period of return on investment, the market rates and so on," Paskevicius explained. As Paskevicius' explained, it is so far difficult to define the exact start and completion of power link construction. Previously, the line had been scheduled to be put in operation in 2011, this year the completion date was announced to fall some time in 2013.
Poland, along with Latvia and Estonia, will likely control a 22 percent stake in the new nuclear power plant, which will entitle it to 660 megawatts yearly.

PSE is, however, considering an option to purchase 1,000 megawatts every year after 2015, the maximum output that the future power bridge can accommodate.
The Baltic states agreed in the beginning of 2006 to build the new atomic plant, which will replace the Ignalina facility scheduled to be shut down at the end of 2009. Lithuania is keen to remain a nuclear-energy producing nation, while the Baltics and Poland want to minimize dependence on Russian energy.
Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, speaking at an energy forum on May 14, said dependence on Russian energy was dangerous and, in light of the recent cyber-attacks on Estonian Web sites, unreasonable.
"Here security has to be put in the first place," he said. "Instead of going after a sweet mouthful, one must maintain independence, which will be advantageous in the long-run," he said, referring to Russian gas.

In Latvia, Latvenergo Chairman Karlis Mikelsons said that the Baltic state would have to consider additional energy-production resources even if the new atomic plant in Lithuania is built.
"Ignalina is not a panacea for us 's Ignalina is just one of the projects to increase the available basic capacities, and nothing more," he said, referring to the new plant's location.
Mikelsons stressed that a new nuclear plant will not mean cheaper kilowatts. "It is a myth, believe me, that nuclear power is cheaper," he said.