NPP talks continue with Poland

  • 2012-06-13
  • From wire reports

VILNIUS - The door for Poland to participate in the Visaginas nuclear power plant (NPP) remains open, says Lithuanian Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius, reports ELTA. “We have stated it clearly: the door for the Polish company [PGE] is open if it really wants to take part in the nuclear project. I would like to note that my Polish counterpart has officially given his positive opinion about the NPP, saying that it is a project of immense importance to the Baltic States (..) he also was glad that our parliament is working actively on the laws related to the projected plant,” Kubilius said on June 8 to the Polish radio in Vilnius, Znad Wilii.

During the previous week the prime minister had a chance to meet with his Polish counterpart, Donald Tusk, during meetings in Germany and Hungary.
Last December the Polish energy company Polska Grupa Energetyczna (PGE) said it decided to freeze its participation in the Visaginas NPP project in Lithuania, naming unacceptable conditions and other important projects as reasons to step aside. At the same time, the Polish company said that this did not mean a refusal to take part in the joint project; however, the Polish media said that the freeze was just a polite way of withdrawal.

“PGE did not freeze its participation in the project. The company decided to break off the negotiations under such proposed conditions,” Jan Bury, the deputy minister of the Treasury said in December.
PGE is nearly 70 percent owned by the State Treasury.
In mid-May, PGE said it was considering returning to the Visaginas NPP project, Polish daily Dziennik Gazeta Prawna said. However, the Polish company would like some of the terms of the project to be changed.

Criticism remains
Some economists and energy experts have been criticizing the project, claiming that it is a political, but economically harmful, decision, reports Respublika.
“The Visaginas NPP is a regional project, members of which are Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia together with strategic investor Hitachi,” a booklet asserts. However, neither the Latvian, nor the Estonian governments have officially announced their participation in the project, as the issue has not been discussed in their parliaments yet. Meanwhile, in Lithuania, a campaign to collect signatures in favor of a non-binding referendum on Visaginas NPP will continue till June.
According to Martynas Nagevicius, director of the Lithuanian Energy Consultants Association, it has been stated that the nuclear power project is supported by 75 percent of Lithuanian residents, but this is not true, he says.

Brussels gives its approval
Lithuania continues to receive support for the nuclear project from Brussels. The European Commission’s (EC) opinion on the Visaginas nuclear plant is favorable, European Commissioner Algirdas Semeta says.
“The Commission’s opinion about the Visaginas NPP project is favorable. Thus, the Commission opened the door for the strategic Lithuanian project, which could help to secure the state’s energy independence and Baltic State integration into the European energy market,” he said.

The EC has already presented its opinion to the Lithuanian government.
It has been estimated that the Visaginas NPP project’s cost will be 17 billion litas (4.9 billion euros). Lithuania’s share in it will be 6 billion litas. It is planned to start building the plant in 2015, and launch it in 2020-2021.
In December, Poland withdrew from the project. Currently, Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia and a strategic investor, the Japanese company Hitachi, are members of the project.

President Dalia Grybauskaite is reluctant to assess proposals to hold a referendum on the project; however, she stressed residents to have a right to express their opinion under any circumstances.