POWERS COMBINED: Estonian and Russian companies are hoping to get in on Latvia's new power plant, which may be coal, gas or wind.
RIGA - Eesti Energia, the national utility, said it was interested in participation in helping Latvia build a new power plant, a project that has been given priority status in the new government by Prime Minister Ivars Godmanis.
"Estonians are potentially interested in building a plant in Latvia. Eesti Energia is interested in possible joint projects with Latvenergo," Aivars Tihane, who heads the Estonian company's subsidiary in Latvia, told the Lietiska Diena magazine.
"I know that there are specific interests, but mostly they are concerned not with competition but with creating something more efficient in partnership with Latvenergo," he added.
Tihane noted that Eesti Energia would like to work together with Latvenergo on a new power station, as such a partnership would facilitate building a bigger power plant.
"There are talks about a 400 megawatt coal-fired plant, but in fact the most efficient solutions for coal-powered plants are not 400 megawatts, but 800 megawatts," he said.
"Most probably, for Latvenergo it would be unreasonable to build such a plant aloneâ€¦ It would be better to build it together by joining companies' interests," Tihane said.
He also said Eesti Energy was interested in building a wind farm in Latvia.
"If a tender is announced, Eesti Energia might participate. Eesti Energia has ambitious plans regarding renewable energy. By 2025, the company plans to build renewable energy plants with the total capacity of 700 megawatts, mainly wind farms both in the sea and on land," he said.
"Of course, in our circumstances territories suitable for building wind farms are limited. We just have lots of forests," Tihane said.
Russia's natural gas supplier, Itera Latvija, has also expressed willingness in helping Latvia build a new gas-fired power plant.
If the company fails to agree on a partnership with Latvenergo, it will seek cooperation with another large company, Itera Latvija head Juris Savickis told the Diena daily.
The question of increasing power capacity in Latvia has become pressing as Lithuania is set to close its nuclear power plant in 2009.
Latvenergo generates power at its two thermal power plants in Riga and three hydropower plants on the River Daugava. At present Latvia's total power generation capacities slightly exceed 2,000 megawatts, though production is seasonal. Electricity is imported from Estonia, Russia and Lithuania during slow output seasons.